The headlines have started to pour in. Apple has officially crossed the $2 trillion market cap milestone, after shares traded above $467.77 intraday on Wednesday – although I calculate that the checkpoint had already been reached a few days ago.
Let’s take a look back at the journey that led Apple stock from being worth $1 trillion as recently as September 2019 (the stock reached those levels for the first time in August 2018, but pulled back) to double its market value in what has been a decade-long record time.
Fun facts about Apple’s journey
The trip from $1 trillion in September 2019 to $2 trillion in August 2020 took a bit more than 11 months – a highly disruptive period marked by the COVID-19 crisis, mind you. The last time that shares rose this much this quickly was in the 2009-2010 period. Keep in mind that, back then:
- the stock market in general had been recovering from the depths of the Great Recession;
- the iPhone was still a somewhat novel, high-growth device;
- Apple was about to invent a brand-new product category, the tablet – a.k.a. the iPad.
Investors might be more concerned about the future, however. Will Apple stock be able to keep its momentum going after a rally not seen in many years? This is a tough question to answer, as bulls and bears have very good arguments to support their views. However, let’s look at what history tells us.
On the heels of a 12-month rally like the one that we have seen this month (or better), Apple has generally produced positive 3-month forward returns. The median 3-month return following strong share price movements to the upside has been 5% since Apple went public, in the 1980s, and 10% on average. This is encouraging, and suggests that rallies have not been necessarily followed by pullbacks.
At the same time, as the histogram below depicts, corrections have not been rare either. In fact, the bimodal distribution below suggests that, following a strong rally, it has been more likely for Apple to either pull back or continue to climb higher. Rarely have shares reached the summit and sat there for a while, calmly appreciating the view.
From $1 trillion to $2 trillion: key developments
There is probably not a single factor that led Apple stock to climb to $2 trillion this quickly. A few key developments, however, may help to explain the phenomenon:
- The services segment continued to grow strongly, exceeding management’s targets. As I explained back in September, the services business model allows for higher valuations due to a number of factors: better margins, predictability of revenues, etc.
- Wearables flourished as a product category. While the Apple Watch became a dominant force within the smartwatch market, the AirPod came out of left field to create another, perhaps unexpected source of aggressive growth for the Cupertino company.
- While the iPhone remains a mature product that generates little in terms of top-line growth, the technology shift to 5G began to take form in 2019. In anticipation for Apple’s 5G devices, which could trigger a wave of smartphone upgrades, analysts and investors became excited about the opportunities once again.
- Demand for Apple shares has been boosted by two deep-pocketed giants: Apple itself and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The former continued to buy back shares aggressively, likely pushing valuations higher. The latter has built a sizable position in Apple, and now holds nearly half of its portfolio in shares of the Cupertino company.
Watch the video above for more from the Apple Maven about the $2 trillion event.
Read more from the Apple Maven:
(Disclaimers: the author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Apple Maven)