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Apple Bears Fruit: Widows, Orphans Take Note

Stocks in this article: AAPL GM IBM GOOG MSFT CHL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We like to think of the tech titans in Silicon Valley as as being new, young, quite unlike the stodgy industrial giants of a previous age.

But Apple (AAPL), which in some ways started the tech boom, has now been public for 33 years.  That's a third of a century.

As was said of General Motors  (GM) in the 1950s, when its Detroit headquarters was about the same age, what's good for Apple is good for the U.S.A.

Apple has become a giant, a bellwether for the tech sector, and a major force in keeping an American advantage in the global tech marketplace. Apple is the best bet for "widow and orphan" investors who want dependable dividends and security in retirement. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak's baby is all grown up.

Some say this has been a tough year for Apple, but it's ending in triumph. Counterpoint Research says the iPhone 5 and 5s are pounding their rivals from Samsung, and that three of the top four selling phones in the world are now made by Apple. Apple also beat Samsung in this round of a patent lawsuit in Korea.

Apple even has 10% of the phone market in China, and that's just as China Mobile (CHL) , the nation's largest carrier with an estimated 700 million subscribers, starts taking pre-orders. Counterpoint's graph of monthly market share shows Apple as a hockey stick, pointed straight up. Apple is still in third place in overall market share behind Samsung and Lenovo, but it's in third place with a bullet.

For those who bought Apple in the spring or summer, when it bottomed out near $400 a share, their patience has been rewarded. It's now at $560. Even at that price it's something of a bargain, with a below-market price-to-earnings multiple of 14.15 and a yield of 2.18%.

According to the annual list of the Fortune 500, Apple is by far America's biggest tech company. It's more than two times bigger than IBM (IBM), bigger than GM itself, and is far-and-away the most profitable name on the board, bringing $1 of every $4 in sales to the net income line.

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