$1,000 per share.
That would boost Apple'scap enough to make it the first trillion-dollar company -- far and away the largest publicly traded in the world.
Topeka's analyst projections have seemed outlandish in the past -- but they've come through. Last fall, the group projected that Apple would reach $666 -- a bold prediction seeing as though the stock was trading around $400 at the time. Just six months later, Applereached new highs of $640.
Over the past 10 years, Apple's stock has grown from just $12 per share, to $580 -- giving investors who held the stock an incredible return of 4,500%. If you invested $1,000 in Apple in April 2002, you could potentially cash your for $48,333 today.
By comparison, if 10 years ago you were to spread a $1,000 investment across the 500 largest companies trading in the U.S. stock -- which would include companies like Wal-Mart, Exxon, GE, AT&T and others -- you'd end up with just $1,250 today.
So what makes Apple so special? How did it grow to become the world's largest and most valuable company?
It's simple. Behind every winning stock is a company with a strong brand image, a lasting competitive advantage, an ever-growingand a knack for keeping its shareholders happy for the long haul.
Believe it or not, it's not hard to find companies that have the qualities of Apple, if you know what to look for.
Here are a few winning "forever" qualities that propelled Apple's stock over 4,500% in just 10 years:
Apple is the "Coca-Cola" of its industry, with lasting competitive advantages.
The Apple brand has become as recognizable as "Coca-Cola," with products that can be imitated, but rarely replaced.
Between Apple's talented marketing team and development/design team, the tech-giant has not only made computers, smart phones and MP3 players slick, it's made them mainstream.
Today, Apple's audience reach knows no bounds. Seniors use iPhones to make calls and play bridge, three-year-olds use the iPad to watch cartoons and play video games and journalists listen to iPods while they type. And when Apple users want more apps or music, they buy direct from the iTunes store.
And no one says they want a "tablet PC." They want an "iPad" -- or at least its equivalent.
It's the "Coca-Cola" of its industry, and many consumers would prefer not to drink any other brand.
Apple rakes in ever-increasing profits, every year.
Apple'shas grown an unprecedented 5,067% over just 10 years -- from $65 million in 2002, to today's $33 billion. That's double the that behemoth Wal-Mart takes in every year.
One of Apple's secrets behind its skyrocketinggrowth? The company manages to keep its manufacturing costs low, and always finds new ways to generate a higher for each new product it introduces, every year -- or not.
Apple started its factor" of the brand convinced them -- and their friends -- to upgrade to the more expensive iPod touch, iPhone and then iPad.small with iPods eight years ago. Over time, the "wow" experience of the product and "cool
In 2002, Apple made a sale -- a whopping $26 for every $100 iWidget sold.of $1 for every $100 iWidget sold. Today, Apple makes 26 times more off of each
Increasingly fattenedmargins, combined with an annual growth in number of iWidgets sold have helped Apple reach record profits every year for the past decade -- profits that it can use to grow the company and thereby further increase its stock's value.
Apple vows to reward its shareholders through good markets -- and bad ones -- for decades.
But Apple doesn't want its stock to be a fling or a flash-in-the-pan investment that shareholders get tired of and just sell after a few years. The company wants to keep current shareholders -- and their valuable investment dollars that fuel Apple's future development and expansion -- happy for decades.
What's the easiest way Apple can increase the value of its company over the long term? Of course through sustainable and consistent growth, but more so by utilizing its strongest -- its massive cash hoard.
With its debts paid off long ago, the company has been able to sock away large chunks of its into its savings. Its cash hoard reached a gigantic $97.5 billion in March -- nearly enough cash to buy McDonalds or Bank of America outright.
That's cash that the company can use in the future to soften the blows ofdownturns or recessions. Cash that can be used to develop the next, multi-billion dollar iProduct. Cash that can be used to acquire a smaller company that can help Apple continue growing. And it's cash that can be used to reward its shareholders with billions of dollars in dividends.
Apple is prepared for rainy days, it's prepared to seize opportunities, and above all, it's prepared to please its shareholders for many years to come.
The Investing Answer: With everything Apple has going for it, it's not hard to see why investors have collectively poured more than $540 billion into its stock. If Apple's grew 85% larger to $1 trillion -- as some analysts expect it will -- it wouldn't surprise me.
All of these qualities -- a strong brand, a lasting competitive advantage, an ever-growingand a desire to keep shareholders happy -- have made Apple the multi-billion dollar company it is today, and have given shareholders returns of 47.4 % per year.
And while I don't expect Apple to keep up that pace forever, I do expect that it will continue to be successful, and will reward its shareholders with sustainable growth and value for decades to come.