Another week, another new record high for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) stock.
The world’s largest tech stock grew even larger this week, climbing another 4% to reach a new mindboggling level of $544 a share. The recent gains enabled Apple to crack the fabled $500 billion market-cap mark on Tuesday – a number previously only reached by tech peers Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) during the dotcom bubble in 1999-2000.
Those valuations weren’t sustainable, as the bubble burst shortly after the turn of the century. Will Apple’s $500 billion valuation be more sustainable?
Many analysts say “yes.” Some of them even speculate that the stock could double. That would make Apple the first ever trillion-dollar U.S. stock – a number that sounds preposterous at the moment.
But a half-trillion probably sounded absurd too three months ago when the stock was trading at $363 a share. It has since risen 50%, gaining nearly $150 billion in market cap.
With the company set to release the iPhone 5, iPad 3 and new Apple TV in the coming months, Apple still has room to grow despite its recent surge. Company co-founder Steve Wozniak told CNBC he thinks the stock has the potential to hit $1,000 a share – nearly double what it is now.
Still, how much upside can a stock with a half-billion dollar valuation possibly have?
Consider that Exxon (NYSE: XOM) is the only other U.S. stock that has a market cap ($416 billion at present) within even $200 billion of Apple’s. The idea that Apple, which had a smaller valuation than Exxon before this recent run began, can be double and even triple the size of such blue-chip stocks as Exxon and Microsoft seems unrealistic.
But very little about Apple’s current rampage has seemed real. Nothing has slowed it down. Every time analysts insist it can go no higher, Apple has proven them wrong.
So it’s time for investors to at least start wrapping their heads around the idea of Apple as a trillion dollar company. It might not be quite as outlandish as you think.