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On April 17, 2003, Apple’s split-adjusted stock price opened at $6.60 a share. Today, October 23, 2007, Apple stock opened at $188.56. That’s over 28 times your initial investment in just a 4.5 years! Incredible. In fact, Apple just passed IBM and Intel in market capitalization! Who would have thought? If you had invested $50K in Apple 4.5 years ago, you’d be sitting on $1.43M today.

Apple has even been a better investment than Google. Google shares had an IPO price of $85, August 2004, and today is hovering around $675. Not bad, almost 8 times in a little over 3 years. However, to match Apple’s incredible run, Google shares would have to reach more than $2400 in 1.5 years. Not going to happen. To be fair, Apple had a market capitalization, in 2003, of $5-6B, while Google was already valued at $26.5B at IPO.

What is interesting is that the iPod and iTunes were released in 2001. So it took some time for momentum to kick-in. In 2003, Apple released the iLife suite and the Safari web browser. Those synergies, along with major improvements to Mac OS X, helped Apple’s market ascent.

Would I invest in Apple today? With so many innovative products, I think Apple definitely hasn’t reached their ceiling and still has run left. So Apple isn’t, necessarily, a bad investment. However, with a market capitalization over $160B, I think I might look to smaller cap opportunities which have much more room to grow. In other words, look for a company that is where Apple was 4.5 years ago.