SAN FRANCISCO — Apple's record-setting market value eclipsed $800 billion for the first time Tuesday, and its relentless march on Wall Street could take it to $1 trillion later this year.
Shares of the iPhone maker have soared 33% this year, and nearly 40% since the presidential election in November. On Tuesday, they inched up to $153.96, giving Apple a closing market cap of $802.8 billion — large enough to make it one of the top-20 countries, by gross domestic product, based on estimates from the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook.
In early-morning trading Wednesday, Apple shares were down slightly.
"We believe a valuation north of $1 trillion could be realized at some point should investor sentiment continue to improve and certain factors play out in Apple’s favor," says Angelo Zino, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research. Those factors, he says, include a better-than-expected iPhone cycle, continued growth of the Apple Services division, and a favorable tax reform/repatriation outcome leading to greater return of cash to shareholders.
Apple, which passed $700 billion in market value more than two years ago, is the first U.S. company to pass the $800-billion mark.
Apple shares have benefited greatly from stock buybacks: Over the past four years, the company has shaved its actual share count by 20.9%, according to data from S&P Dow Jones Indices.
It's also been the recipient of the Buffett Bounce. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway quadrupled its investment in Apple to 57 million shares in the fourth quarter, according to a securities filing, ahead of a surge in Apple shares earlier this year.
The wild ride doesn't end there. Apple shares have benefited from a hot stock market and sharp growth in Apple Services — a $7 billion-per-quarter division that in three years could account for nearly one-third of the company's sales.
Apple's primary cash cow, iPhone, could help the company surpass $1 trillion in market value. The 10th-anniversary version of the smartphone is expected to be a big seller, creating a large stock run-up in the days leading up to its rumored release in September or October.
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