Apple wins race to $1 trillion

It’s official—Apple is now the first $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company, crowning a decade-long rise fueled by its ubiquitous iPhone that transformed it from a niche player in personal computers into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications.

Shortly before noon EDT. on Thursday, Aug. 2, Apple's stock hit $207.05 per share, giving it a market capitalization at that trillion-dollar mark. Apple — the biggest public company in the world — had 4,829,926,000 shares outstanding as of July 20, which meant its stock had to hit $207.05 to be worth $1 trillion.

Apple has been on a relatively steady rise since setting a two-year bottom in May of 2016. The iPhone maker had been straddling the 50-day moving average during that rise, but spiked higher this week after testing support at the 50-day SMA on July 30 (see chart).

The stock dipped below that level during Thursday's trading session but closed up 2.9% at $207.39, cementing the iPhone maker's status as a trillion-dollar company.

That made Apple worth more than all but the 15 richest countries in the world, based on 2017 data from the CIA World Factbook (based on gross domestic product). It is the second time a public company has been valued this high as PetroChina, an oil and gas company, topped $1 trillion for a short time on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2007.

Apple’s recent strength, on a technical basis, can be tied to a successful defense of support at its 50-week SMA in April (see chart below). Apple broke above its 50-week SMA back in September 2016 after setting a two-year low and has risen steadily since. That level was breached on an intra-week basis in February and again in April following broad equity market weakness. In both cases, Apple managed to rebound and settle at or above the 50-week SMA.

In a memo sent Thursday to Apple employees, CEO Tim Cook called the valuation a "significant milestone" but added that it wasn't the "most important measure" of the company's success, according to multiple outlets.