Apple’s market value topped the $500 billion mark in early trading on Wednesday, setting another record high for what was already the world’s most valuable company.
David Goldman, writing for CNN Money:
The half-trillion dollar valuation puts Apple in some extremely exclusive territory, making it one of the five most-valuable companies at any point in history. Only Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500) and General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) have ever surpassed that mark.
Exxon did it most recently in late 2007, when oil prices were soaring. Microsoft, Cisco and GE reached half a trillion dollars in market capitalization in 1999 during the height of the tech bubble.
Microsoft was the only company ever to have a valuation of $600 billion. Its market cap now sits about $267 billion.
Apple’s worth is now higher than the gross domestic product of Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, or Taiwan.
Apple is one of the fastest growing technology companies. In January, it was reported that sales grew 73% last year. It posted the second most profitable quarter in history for a U.S. firm. Apple’s stock price has been exploding for the past three years. Shares reached $500 two weeks ago, setting a new mark for the tech Goliath.
Despite Apple’s stunning rise in share price, the company’s stock gains haven’t even kept pace with its earnings. That means Apple’s shares are relatively cheap. The tech giant’s stock trades at less than 13 times its expected earnings for 2012. That makes it cheaper than the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, which trades at about 18 times forecast earnings. And Apple is wildly cheaper than some of the other tech companies out there with far less predictable futures, like Netflix (NFLX), Zynga (ZNGA), LinkedIn (LNKD) and the soon-to-be public Facebook.
This is an awesome achievement for a company that’s 35 years old, and had a market cap of $10 billion just a decade ago.
One last note: Not only is Apple worth more than any of the five countries listed above, they are now worth more than 16 of Dell’s entire company!