There had been concerns as to how Cook would handle the pressure of following in the footsteps of the legendary Jobs, but he has silenced any potential criticism by continuing the expansion of the company. The latest milestone makes Apple inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) the first S&P 500 company ever to obtain a market cap of $700 billion, however it is not yet the most valuable company ever. That honor still belongs to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), whose market cap peak of $613 billion in 1999 would be worth $874 billion today when adjusted for inflation
Not as impressive as it sounds
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Again Apple inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) does not break records for market cap size in terms of valuation within the S&P 500 index. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), at its peak, accounted for almost 5% of the total index value, while International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) accounted for 6% in the 1980s. Apple currently has a weighting of less than 4% in the index because the S&P 500 has risen to record levels.
Indeed by yet another measure it is quite a cheap record. Apple currently trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 18, compared to 72 for Microsoft at its peak. However its sales and profits are rising faster than the overall rates for the blue chip, at 15% and above 20% respectively.
Some experts believe that the law of big numbers has influenced investors opinion on Apple’s growth premium, with many wondering where the company can go after becoming so big.
Apple inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) continues to rely on the iPhone to drive earnings higher. Cook is set to release the first new product category of his tenure next year, in the shape of the Apple Watch. So far analysts have mixed feelings on the potential success of the device, but many still predict further rises in the company’s share price.
Rob Cihra, an analyst at Munster and Evercore, has set a price target of $135 over the next year, which would value the company at around $800 billion. Others are more bullish on the prospect of further rises, and Carl Icahn claims that when taking into account the significant amount of cash held by the company, its true market valuation already sits around the 10-figure mark.
In order to reach that record-breaking milestone, shares in Apple would have to rise another 43% from today’s price to around $171 per share.