Wednesday was a big day for Apple, at least in the world of symbolic benchmarks, as this was the day the company was deemed by Wall Street to be worth more than US$500 billion. That’s half a trillion dollars, to those keeping score at home. The stock ended the day at $542.44, a gain of $7.03 (+1.31 percent), giving the company a market capitalization of $505.8 billion.
A half a trillion dollars is generally speaking still considered to be a lot of money. In fact, only five companies have been valued so highly before. The Associate Press noted that Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, General Electric, and Exxon Mobil have all crossed the $500 billion mark in the past—most of them during the tech bubble that burst in 2000), though none of them is worth that much today. Exxon Mobil is the closest of the bunch, ending Wednesday with a market cap of $407.7 billion.
Does it matter that Apple is worth so much money? Not really, except to its shareholders, the people that actually own all that paper wealth, but it’s an exclusive club that Apple has joined. It’s also symbolic of how far the company has come from the days when Michael Dell said that if he ran the company, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
At that time, Wall Street largely agreed with Mr. Dell’s assessment, as Apple was worth a tiny fraction what it is today. Speaking of today, Michael Dell’s company, Dell, is worth $31.1 billion.
Shares of AAPL have been on a tear this year, rising more than $138.93 per share from its close of $403.51 on December 30th, 2011. That’s an increase of 34.4% in just two months.
Apple’s record December quarter results have been a part of that increase, while the announcement of a media event on March 7th to introduce a new iPad have been goosing the stock in the last two trading days.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.