Apple hits new market cap high of $US600b - 'for no good reason'
Apple shares hit a new all-time high today of $US644 - giving the company a market cap north of $US600 billion - or almost a third more than that of the world's second most valuable company, Exxon Mobil (shares eased by the end of the trading day to value Apple around $US585 billion).
Only one other company has ever topped $US600 billion - Microsoft, back in the 1990s tech bubble.
During the dot.com boom, Microsoft's market cap hit $US618.9 billion (or $US846 billion adjusted for inflation; today it is around $US255 billion).
Apple's market gap growth keeps accelerating.
Shares in the company, which flirted with bankruptcy before being saved by a Microsoft investment in the 1990s, were $US363 in December.
Over the past month alone, they have appreciated around 17%.
It was only on March 3 that the company passed the $US500 billion market cap mark.
Is a market cap of around $US600 billion warranted?
Apple is phenomenally profitable.
The company generated $US17.5 billion in free cash flow during its December quarter as pulled in record revenue of $US46.33 billion and record quarterly net profit of $US13.06 billion, or $US13.87 per diluted share
Growth came off the back of huge iPhone (37 million in the past quarter) and iPad (15 million) sales which, for now, aree overshadowing the loss of the late Steve Jobs, the melding force between Apple's engineers and designers.
Shares have also been buoyed by Apple's recently announced $US2.65/share quarterly dividend, and the lure of more of its close-to $US100 billion cash pile being paid out in future.
Still, has its stock risen too far.
In an Australian Financial Review article today titled "Apple shares rising for no good reason," BTIG Institutional derivatives adviser Rod Skellet says “Given the outrageous run it’s had, would I advise my mother to buy shares in Apple now? No way."
As an example of how quickly sentiment can turn, Mr Skellet points to the persuasive popularity of BlackBerries that shot shares in its maker, RIM, to $US144 in mid-2008. Today their trading around $US13.