At the current US$186 per share, Appleis value as a company is US$162B. Thatis now larger than IBM ($159B) and Intel ($155B) and fourth in terms of computer companies behind only Cisco ($189B), Google ($208B), and Microsoft ($290B).
The value of a company, called the market cap, is the product of the outstanding shares times the share price.
In terms of price to earnings ratios, (P/E), those companies look like this:
- IBM 17.1
- Microsoft 21.8
- Intel 24.8
- Cisco 26.4
- Apple 47.6
- Google 52.9
Generally, a high P/E ratio is unfavorable because the price paid per earnings is greater. On the other hand, companies that have big earnings growth typically do have a higher P/E ratio.
Saul Hansel, in his New York Times Blog, wondered how Apple got to this point and whether the company can stay there. In the past, it seemed the PC war was over and Microsoft had won, but Appleis resurgence in other areas has brought the company back to a stronger position than ever before.
The common theme among all these companies is software. However, another important key is dominance in a particular market which can hold rivals at bay and keep margins high. The fact that Apple has developed such a strong loyalty amongst its customers and earned a reputation for innovation amplifies that.
Going forward, all these companies have an interest in digital entertainment. Even Cisco has purchased Linksys and Scientific Atlanta -- which makes TV set top boxes. If Apple can, like the competition, achieve and maintain a dominant position in key areas, as they have done with the iPod and music, leading to additional efforts with the iPhone and Apple TV, then itis likely Apple will maintain that position atop the most valuable computer companies.