It wasn’t easy to pick a Real America Index stock for California last year, and it was no easier this year. But once again, we put the mega-cap tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) ahead of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and the rest of Silicon Valley.
After all, it’s hard to find another company that represents our love of technology any better than Apple.
Besides, it’s a great American tech story. Two college dropouts with $1,300 in hand founded Apple in 1976 as the Silicon Valley was evolving as a technology mecca. Apple became the first personal computer company to reach $1 billion in annual sales — and now ranks as the largest company on Wall Street by market cap, doing some $120 billion in annual sales.
Of course, Apple has suffered failures and stumbles that threatened to wipe it off the map. After wild success with its Macintosh line in the mid-80s, a series of product failures and the growing dominance of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) led to crippling losses and record-low stock prices. After co-founder Steve Jobs returned in 1996, Apple moved into its second act with the release of the iMac in 1998. The iMac sold almost 800,000 units in five months and rejuvenated the company. By the banner year of 2001, Apple launched iTunes, Mac OS X, Apple retail stores and the iPod.
In the decade since then, Apple has continued to innovate and redefine personal electronics with its retail stores, iPhone, iPod, iPad and personal computers.
Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad and other innovations are game-changers that represent U.S. tech innovation at its best. And even though its iconic founder Steve Jobs has passed, Apple still is forging ahead — instituting its first-ever dividend and buyback program as the company continues to evolve.
Apple’s ability to reinvent itself and return to profitability is a true American success story, making it a great representative of California’s Silicon Valley and our choice for the state’s Real America Index stock.
Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.
Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.