I just read the report that Apple valuation reached 2 trillion dollars today. That’s the first publicly traded company to reach such a pinnacle. When you think about it, two trillion is just a series of numbers on a page. When the numbers are that enormous, the fluctuations accounting for interest, currency valuations, and market make it impossible to pinpoint the exact value in any moment in time. So, we say ‘two trillion’ and leave it at that. Tomorrow, it might be two trillion give-or-take a few million. When numbers are that big, only a computer can keep up – barely. And while we’re talking about it, no human being can imagine what two trillion of anything actually is. It’s a number so large, the human brain cannot fathom it. If you’re an employee of Apple, perhaps now would be a good time to negotiate a raise and maybe look at some stock options, as well.
I remember the mid-1980s; I worked in U.S. government procurement for a small military contractor during that roaring decade. It was the decade of excellent rock-and-roll power ballads and little else. Suddenly, my boss burst through the office door and announced that this little start-up in Seattle, Washington was getting traction and he might consider putting some money on it. “Have you heard of Microsoft?” he asked.
“No, should I? Do we supply them? I started looking through my customer files.
“Uh, no!” he said with an exasperated tone. “It’s that computer company built by that guy out of his garage. You know…I think his name is Gates – Bill Gates, as I recall.”
“Oh yeah! No, I don’t have any extra cash laying around. No investments for me. Plus, if I did, I’d put it on something that will actually make money, like IBM,” I said with a smart-aleck tone.
My boss walked off, shaking his head. I put my face back in my work and thought about investments, for oh, maybe ten seconds more; then my mind went back to whatever I was doing – employee overtime budgets, or something. I largely still have that same attitude about stock investments here in 2020. I don’t know why. Maybe because money has always been tight for me and stocks have never been on my radar as something I absolutely needed. But I do concur with the argument – if I would’ve bought stock in Microsoft back in the mid-1980s or in Apple or any of the other tech companies starting out in those days, there’s no question, I would have a bundle of money now.
Despite the stock market reeling from the pandemic and nearly all global economies tanking, the tech companies like Microsoft and Apple are growing in value – hugely! Just yesterday, the U.S. stock market rose after S&P 500 had a record day. Tech companies recognized huge rises in value based off investors betting they would fare well in the coming months. Yes, the stock market is something akin to pulling the handle on a slot machine. If you bet right and you’re lucky, you will hear the sweet metallic chinking sound of coin falling into the bin – only in this case, it’s the sound of money growing in your portfolio. Does that make a sound? Maybe a sigh of satisfaction from the benefactor.
So, here’s what surprises me about the Apple stock. And yes, even though I don’t have millions invested in a stock portfolio, I still follow stocks and read the reports. It’s fascinating. Apple, in the past two years, has not really trotted-out anything spectacular in products. And the majority of their stuff is made in China, supplied by Chinese supply lines. But they have made bank on their residuals – offerings and services that customers pay monthly. For example, I pay Apple each month for a space on their cloud service, as do millions of others.
But here’s the thing that really intrigues me. Last March, Apple value dropped below the 1 trillion mark due to investors betting on a bad hand regarding the new coronavirus. But a startling 21 weeks later, Apple skyrocketed to the two trillion mark! In the ever-applicable words of Vizzini, “Inconceivable!”
Other companies that have done well include Microsoft, Amazon, and yes, you guessed it, Facebook. What would the global society do without it’s social media? Folks have to keep up with friends and pass along fake news during pandemic boredom! And yes, buying everything on Amazon still requires NO mask. Technology is king right now, and so is China it seems – the place from which everything is supplied and made. If you ever feel depressed because Made in the USA has been overshadowed by Made in China, blame your hurt feelings on cheap labor and production costs. The United States sold out decades ago and is now reaping the whirlwind.