Back on May 23rd of this year I wrote a post for AOL's Bloggingstocks, that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) would become bigger than IBM (NYSE: IBM). At the time of that article, Apple's market capitalization was just under $100 billion and IBM's was at $158 billion. Apple had a long way to go to capture the title away from Big Blue and frankly, I conservatively wrote it would happen within 2 years. I was wrong: it has happened in 5 months. Today, Apple's market cap is a sterling $161 billion while IBM's has remained stagnant at $157 billion. The power of growth investing. Explain please!
IBM is an excellent company, well managed and has the respect of the technology world. There is no question that Big Blue is a mainstay and that millions of enterprises and governments rely on IBM's products every day. The problem with IBM is its growth is slow and there has been no visible acceleration. Apple on the other hand, has become the go-to, consumer electronics/technology giant. Apple has a line up of exciting, gotta-have products and the expanding margins to boot.
Apple has built a relationship with the consumer and that franchise is virtually impenetrable. The iPod and iPhone have defined their respective spaces. iPod has sold over 110 million units globally, and is still in a massive growth phase. The attendant iTunes store is the gift that keeps on giving. More than 2.5 billion -- that's billion -- tunes have been sold via iTunes. Talk about a franchise.
The iPhone is just in the beginnings of its cycle. The iPhone was met with high anticipation and a ton of hype, and has lived up to it. Apple has put forth a modest goal of 10 million units by year end 2008. I estimate that 10 millionth iPhone will be sold by April/May 2008. It also has the gift that keeps on giving: monthly royalties from the telecom carriers that will provide service. In the United States, it is AT&T (NYSE: T). 10 million units represent about 1% of the globally sold 1 billion cell phones per annum. Seems conservative for a "revolutionary" product. It is!
The Leopard operating system was released today at a retail price of $119 for installs to existing Mac Computers and, of course, it comes installed in new Macs. The Mac has blown away all estimates as it sold 2.6 milllion units this past quarter. That number is 400,000 ahead of the June quarter's outstanding numbers.
The add-on software and accessories sales for Apple gear is also part of the gravy. Coupled with 180+ retail stores that are user-friendly, Apple can control the entire transaction from soup to nuts and also builds customer loyalty along the way.
To put Apple's market capitalization gain these past 5 months into perspective: Apple's grew its value the size of Dell Computer (NASDAQ: DELL) in the 5 months! By the way, Apple will surpass its next target in the market cap game within the next 12 months. That target is Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), another very well run technology giant. Cisco currently has a market cap of $200 billion....
Georges Yared is the CIO of Yared Investment Research and the author of Baby Boomer Investing...Where do we go from here?"