Technology

This Is America's Most Valuable Company

Measuring company valuations can be difficult. For private companies, there are no metrics, or very few, for analysts to use. However, for public companies, the yardstick is easy. Take the stock price, and multiply it by the number of shares the company has outstanding.

Apple places first among American companies with a market value of $2.43 trillion. It crossed the $1 trillion market cap barrier on April 2, 2018, and was the first company to do so. It topped the $2 trillion level on August 20, 2020.

The spread between Apple and the next U.S. company based on market cap is modest. Microsoft’s is $2.22 trillion. Interestingly, Apple and Microsoft were founded within a year of each other by two of America’s greatest entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in April 1976. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in April 1975.

Tech companies take up the top of the market cap list: Alphabet ($1.89 trillion), Amazon ($1.76 billion), Facebook ($1.08 trillion), and Tesla $728 billion. One could argue that Tesla is a car company, but it certainly would not have such a high market cap if that were the metric.

Why does Apple rank so high? Among other things, it is not a single company, but rather it is two. The first of these is the best known. Apple makes hardware. iPhones, Macs, Watches, iPads). This is its largest business by far. The iPhone in particular accounts for the largest share of its revenue The iPhone 13 is about to be released. With each new generation of the iPhone, skeptics say there will be buyer fatigue. There never is.

Apple also has a services business. This includes the company’s media operations, particularly in music and video. It also included e-commerce products like Apple iCloud (the storage operation), the App Store, Apple Music, and Apple Pay.

The most obvious reason for Apple’s market cap is its P&L and balance sheet. Apple’s net income in the most recent $21.7 billion on revenue of $84.4 billion. Apple has over $160 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Apple’s stock price is up about 30% in the last 12 month period. The first iPhone 13 models will be in stores and available online within weeks. If they sell well, the stock will keep rising.

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