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Can Apple Ever Be a $1 Trillion Company?

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) seems to have an uncanny knack of coming out with one eye-catching headline after another. This time, it seems to have surpassed all expectations by touching an astounding $600 billion in market capitalization. Consider this: On April 12, 2012, just two days after the landmark event, the market capitalization of ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company, stood at $396 billion. What's even more intriguing is the fact that both Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and IBM had a combined market cap of around $494 billion on that day, which was far less than that of Apple's peak valuation. Apparently, this is just the beginning.

Recently, Brian White, an analyst from Topeka Capital Markets, raised eyebrows when he set a $1,001 target stock price for Apple, which translates into a market capitalization of $932 billion. So, does that mean we're possibly looking at a $1 trillion company in the near future? Time to find out how "real" that reality is.

A lot to delve into
Apple still has loads of potential ahead of it. The markets are already abuzz with the supposedly breathtaking future success of the iPhone 5, as well as Apple's foray into new areas such as television sets and mobile-based payments. I haven't even included the iPad here -- which, analysts believe, will continue to dominate the tablet market, at least until 2016.

The Chinese potential
At the same time, Apple still has a lot of room for growth in emerging markets such as China, which is considered a major revenue booster. The company's growth has not been totally satisfactory in China yet, as it lags behind Samsung in what has been one of the most important overseas markets for Apple in recent times. But, all that could change once Apple teams up with the largest mobile operator in China -- China Mobile (NYSE: CHL  ) , which has a whopping 655-million-subscriber base.

But, in order to get to China Mobile's subscribers, the iPhone would have to support its TD-SCDMA network, a problem which it aims to solve with the likely inclusion of Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) fifth-generation Gobi chipset in the yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5, which would enable it to run on almost any network, whether HSPA+, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA or TD-LTE.

What about competition?
With Apple, the competition has always had a hard time as well. Most developers still find it cumbersome to customize apps for Android-based devices as screen sizes and aspect ratios vary a lot. With Apple, developers have only a couple of screen sizes to cater to, which explains the more than 200,000 applications created for the iPad alone up to now.

And as for Microsoft's line of tablets, Gartner says that less than 5 million Windows-powered media tablets will be sold this year; by 2016, this figure might rise to 44 million, a stark contrast to Apple's estimated sale of 170 million units for the same year.

The Foolish bottom line
Apple seems to be on a high at present, but the important question is whether it will be able to sustain this scorching pace of growth in the face of increased competition from rivals such as Samsung. Only time can tell whether the company's shares will inch up to the $1,001 mark. What do you think?

Apple's market cap may be all set to skyrocket further, but here's a special free report that would show you these three hidden winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android revolution.

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Keki Fatakia does not hold shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Qualcomm. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, China Mobile, and Microsoft; and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 18, 2012, at 4:38 PM, odb555 wrote:

    Apple could become a 1 Trillion dollar company. The only thing they need to do is make their products stop giving problems. Problems like freezes home button not working sound problem keep roaming too long. Their product is the best and will continue being the best.

  • Report this Comment On April 18, 2012, at 4:54 PM, ConstableOdo wrote:

    It sure would be nice if there weren't so darn many analysts making outrageous claims about Apple's future stock prices and market cap. Apple had a $600 billion market cap for all of ten minutes. Hardly anything to get excited about. If anyone blinked that day, they would have missed that market cap level. Apple shares can easily be ridden down on nothing but pure speculation, so shareholders need to take these exaggerated projections with a grain of salt.

    If Apple reaches $700, all well and good, but analysts really need to ease off of these $910 share price targets. Those are just the Apple bulls trying to make a name for themselves or trying to grab a few minutes of fame. One trillion dollars is a huge amount. No other publicly traded company has ever been that high. Apple is unlikely to ever get that high because I don't think it has Wall Street's backing. There are too many anti-Apple investors to ever drive the price up that high.

  • Report this Comment On April 18, 2012, at 7:43 PM, ynotc wrote:

    The only that matters is if the metrics support the valuation. 12 to 13 times next years earnings looks extremely reasonable when you consider the growth and margins of the company. If the company can continue to come close to expectations it will support an increasingly higher share price.

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