Shares of California-based Apple broke a new record today. Image via Chronic

Shares of Apple, Inc. hit a new high this morning. Just as you thought passing 10 percent of all of NASDAQ value was too good to be true, shares of Apple continue to rise and challenge the most intrepid analyst out there. Blame it on an early-March iPad 3 launch hype, but in NASDAQ trading this morning, AAPL crossed $500 a share for a market valuation north of $460 billion. In other words, a single share of Apple now commands a higher price than an iPad 2—remarkable. It rather makes you want to bang your head against the wall for not buying shares at $7 each back in 2003.

Essentially, Apple is now worth a whopping $70 billion more than the oil giant Exxon Mobil, whose market cap stands at $397.85 billion. Moreover, BGR noted Apple is worth more than each one of its smartphone vendor rivals combined. As of Friday’s close, the publication explained, the combined market value of Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Motorola Mobility, RIM, Sony and LG is $225.36 billion, which is less than half Apple’s today valuation. Oh, and remember Apple was weeks from bankruptcy 15 years ago.

Another way to look at it: On Steve Jobs’ Oct. 5, 2011 passing, AAPL traded at $378.25. Note that Microsoft was worth $583 billion in 1999, so Apple still has some catching up to do to become the most valuable company of all time. However, Apple is still undervalued even at $500 a share. Therefore, beating Microsoft’s all-time high market valuation should be a matter of when, and not if.

Today’s market capitalization of Apple is already more than double the size of IBM ($226.86 billion) and almost double the size of Microsoft ($257.68 billion). Also interesting, Apple’s market valuation is nearly the size of IBM’s and Microsoft’s combined, and it now surpasses the joint Google ($199.34 billion) and Microsoft market cap. Of course, market valuation is not a real-world business metric, because it reflects analysts’ and the markets’ expectations of a company’s future performance. Therefore, it should be treated as nothing more than a speculative market indicator.

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