Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) market capitalization surpassed $500 billion for the first time in history as of Wednesday’s close.
While the iconic iPhone and iPad maker isn't the largest company in history -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) at one time exceeded $600 billion in value right before the tech meltdown of 2000 -- Apple’s extraordinary growth may keep going.
The company, which boasts almost $100 billion in cash on its books, could generate profits of $40 billion this year.
Some analysts even think the company might one day reach the unprecedented $1 trillion market-cap mark, given the fanatical devotion the global public has for its products.
Still, the $500 billion mark is a sobering reminder of how large and powerful a successful corporation can become.
Based on figures from the CIA World Factbook, if Apple were a “country” it would boast the 25th-biggest economy on the planet. Its market value would fall just between oil-rich Iran ($480 billion in gross domestic product) and tech powerhouse Taiwan ($505 billion).
Granted, comparing a country's GDP to a company market cap is not exactly an apples-to-apples linkage, however it makes for an interesting comparison to highlight Apple's domination and financial supremacy.
Even more impressive, Apple's market cap is larger than the GDP values of such prominent nations as Norway, Argentina, South Africa, Denmark, Venezuela, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
It will be interesting to see if Apple can continue to keep growing at the rapid rate it has enjoyed over the past decade or so.
With shares closing at $542.44 on Wednesday’s close, Apple stock trades at a relatively modest price-to-earnings ratio of $15.45.
On Wednesday, an analyst at Sterne Agee, Shaw Wu, raised his 12-month price target on Apple shares to $620. At that price (assuming the same number of shares outstanding), Apple’s market cap would be approaching $600 billion. At that level -- if the figure represented GDP -- Apple would have the world's No. 20 economy, even bigger than that of Sweden or Saudi Arabia.