- Apple (AAPL) stock continues to dominate its markets and the stock market
- Its stock gained $350 billion in market capitalization in less than two weeks
- It’s still relatively cheap, based on its growth and profitability
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock is up over $20/share since March 14. It was trading at $172/share early on March 24. The move added over $350 billion to the company’s market cap, which is now $2.8 trillion.
The move makes it clearer than ever that Apple is the bellwether stock of the modern tech economy, as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) was in the era of resources, International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) was in the era of mainframes, and General Motors (NYSE:GM) was in the age of manufacturing.
As Apple goes, so goes the nation.
Right now, Apple is going very well. Even at its present price, investors are paying just 7.4 times revenue and 28 times earnings to own Apple stock. Given its steady revenue growth of $25 billion per year, combined with its ability to bring nearly 30% of revenue to the net income line, it’s a price you can justify.
Investors like to see steady gains over time. Over the last five years Apple stock has delivered capital gains of over 75% each year. This made the fall of $35/share, which began in early December and climaxed on March 7, a buying opportunity. Bulls are now predicting a run to $3 trillion, which seems modest because it’s a gain of just 7%.
Powering the stock higher is news that Foxconn, its Chinese manufacturing partner, has resumed operations in Shenzhen province after a brief halt for Covid-19 lockdowns. The company is being exempted from the tightest controls because of workers who live on-site, allowing a “closed loop” process.
About 83% of Apple’s revenue in its December quarter came from products like the iPhone, on which it has gross margins of roughly 40%. The company’s services business, which is growing at 23%/year, has gross margins of 300%. It had revenue of $15.7 billion and costs of $5 billion during the most recent quarter. Apple now has almost as much revenue each quarter, $123 billion, as the $127 billion GM gets in an entire year.
Send in the Clouds
There are always reasons to worry.
The service revenue mostly comes from Apple’s App Store, which takes 30 cents for each dollar that goes through it. Government regulators want to cut that cord.
Bears note Apple’s continued dependence on China, the rise of antitrust actions around the world, and insist its run can’t continue. That’s good news because stocks falter when no one is willing to get against them.
Apple still has growth drivers. In entertainment, Apple TV is only now getting live sports. In health care, the Apple Watch can warn nursing homes of trouble months before patients report it. In finance, Apple has bought a start-up that provides loan decisions. This could bring its Apple Card to a global market.
The Bottom Line
Once upon a time, you couldn’t get fired for buying IBM. In another time, you couldn’t lose money on General Motors. A generation before that, it was General Electric (NYSE:GE) that dominated the economic world.
Apple’s time is now. But it won’t always be Apple’s time.
Eventually clouds and devices will be supplanted, maybe by companies twisting DNA, maybe by something else. Generations pass, and so do generational leaders.
When I started my reporting career, Exxon Mobil dominated the world, and Apple was a start-up. It took decades for Apple to get where it is, and it will take decades for it to be replaced.
There are literally thousands of start-ups that could be the next generation’s Apple. But I don’t have enough time left on this planet to wait for it.
On the date of publication, Dana Blankenhorn held a long position in AAPL. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.