Ap­ple reaps fi­nan­cial fruit at $1T value

Mile­stone reached 21 years af­ter be­ing near bankruptcy

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Money - By Michael Liedtke As­so­ci­ated Press

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Ap­ple has be­come the world’s first pub­licly traded com­pany to be val­ued at $1 tril­lion, the fi­nan­cial fruit of stylish tech­nol­ogy that has re­de­fined what we ex­pect from our gad­gets.

The mile­stone reached Thurs­day marks the lat­est tri­umph of a trend-set­ting com­pany that two mav­er­icks named Steve started in a Cal­i­for­nia garage 42 years ago.

The achieve­ment seemed unimag­in­able in 1997 when Ap­ple teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, with its stock trad­ing for less than $1, on a split-ad­justed ba­sis, and its mar­ket value drop­ping be­low $2 bil­lion.

To sur­vive, Ap­ple brought back its once-ex­iled co-founder, Steve Jobs, as in­terim CEO and turned to its ri­val Mi­crosoft for a $150 mil­lion cash in­fu­sion to help pay its bills. Cus­tomers flock to an Ap­ple store Thurs­day. Ap­ple is the world’s first pub­licly traded com­pany val­ued at $1 tril­lion.

If some­one had bought $10,000 worth of stock at that point, the in­vest­ment would now be worth $2.6 mil­lion.

Jobs even­tu­ally in­tro­duced pop­u­lar prod­ucts such as the iPod and iPhone that sub­se­quently drove Ap­ple’s rise. The stock has been surg­ing this week as an­tic­i­pa­tion mounts for the next gen­er­a­tion of iPhone, ex­pected to be re­leased in Septem­ber.

Ap­ple hit the $1 tril­lion mark when its shares reached $207.04 around mid­day in New York. They rose to an all-time high of $208.32 be­fore clos­ing at $207.39. The shares are up around 23 per­cent this year.

An­other com­pany, Saudi Ara­bian Oil Co. could eclipse Ap­ple if it goes through with plans for an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing. Saudi of­fi­cials have said the IPO would value Saudi Aramco, as the com­pany is of­ten called, at about $2 tril­lion. But un­til the IPO is com­pleted, Saudi Aramco’s value re­mains murky.

Jobs’ vi­sion, show­man­ship and sense of style pro­pelled Ap­ple’s come­back.

But it might not have hap­pened if he hadn’t evolved into a more ma­ture leader af­ter his exit from the com­pany in 1985. His de­par­ture came af­ter los­ing a power strug­gle with John Scul­ley, a for­mer Pep­sico ex­ec­u­tive who he re­cruited to be­come Ap­ple’s CEO in 1983 — seven years af­ter he and his friend Steve Woz­niak teamed up to start the com­pany with the ad­min­is­tra­tive help of Ron­ald Wayne.

When Jobs re­turned to Ap­ple, he had be­come more thought­ful and adept at spot­ting tal­ent that would help him cre­ate a rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­no­va­tion fac­tory. One of his big­gest coups came in 1998 when he lured Tim Cook away from Com­paq Com­puter at a time when Ap­ple’s sur­vival re­mained in doubt.

Cook’s hir­ing may have been one of the best things Jobs did for Ap­ple. In ad­di­tion, that is, to shep­herd­ing a decade-long suc­ces­sion of iconic prod­ucts that trans­formed Ap­ple from a tech­no­log­i­cal bou­tique to a cul­tural phe­nom­e­non and mon­ey­mak­ing ma­chine.

As Jobs’ top lieu­tenant, Cook over­saw the in­tri­cate sup­ply chain that fed con­sumers’ ap­petite for Ap­ple’s de­vices and then held the com­pany to­gether in 2004 when Jobs was stricken with can­cer that forced him to pe­ri­od­i­cally step away from work — some­times for ex­tended leaves of ab­sences. Just months away from his death, Jobs of­fi­cially handed off the CEO reins to Cook in Au­gust 2011.

Al­though Ap­ple has yet to pro­duce an­other mass-mar­ket sen­sa­tion since that chang­ing of the guard, Cook has lever­aged the legacy that Jobs left be­hind to stun­ning heights. Since Cook be­came CEO, Ap­ple’s an­nual rev­enue has more than dou­bled to $229 bil­lion while its stock has quadru­pled.

More than $600 bil­lion of Ap­ple’s cur­rent mar­ket value has been cre­ated while Cook has been CEO. That wealth cre­ation ex­ceeds the cur­rent mar­ket value of ev­ery pub­licly traded com­pany ex­cept Ama­zon, Mi­crosoft and Google’s par­ent, Al­pha­bet.

MARK LEN­NI­HAN/AP

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