Sky's the limit: Analyst says Apple could be worth $1 trillion

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Muster says Apple's total market valuation could soon exceed $1 trillion. Just another $400 billion to go. But beware the Microsoft precedent.

Apple could be the first company worth $1 trillion in market capitalization as shares hit $1,000, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Somehow it's unlikely that Apple CEO Tim Cook is sending Munster any thank you notes. After all, we've seen these wild market calls before. Dow Jones Industrial Average at 25,000? Sure why not. All those dot-com stocks justified to the stratosphere in 2000. Magazine covers proclaiming bear and bull markets. You know the drill. One huge call can signal the end.

Rest assured Munster has more fundamental data backing him up. Apple is running on all cylinders--iPhones, iPads, Macs, iPods oh my. Munster outlines the case:

We believe shares of Apple will reach $1,000 in CY14, which would imply a roughly 1 trillion dollar market cap, the first in history. While some investors believe the biggest issue for Apple to get to $1,000 is the market cap along with excessive investor exuberance, which we address in this note, we believe the real story is earnings growth. Fundamentally, we believe shares can reach $1,000 based on our belief Apple will continue to win in global mobile devices. As a result, we remain confident in our $80.18 CY15 estimate. A 12x multiple (stock's current out year EPS multiple) on our CY15 EPS of $80.18 yields $960; however, this excludes an Apple Television, which we believe could add more than $4 in EPS (5%) by CY15, which would yield over a $1,000 share price (12 * ~$84).

Sounds logical right? All Apple needs is another $400 billion in market cap.

Apple's last 15 years: $1,000 or bust?

Munster said that $400 billion in market value can come from the following:

  • A third of iPhone upgrades are in the bag through 2015.
  • iPhone owners upgrade every 21 months on average.
  • Apple today is valued fairly even at $1 trillion in market cap -- 12 times earnings, which happen to be growing at a 20 percent clip going forward.

The wild card for Munster's $1 trillion Apple dream is innovation. Munster said:

While we have not seen anything to make us believe innovation will slow, it is the fundamental barrier that stands between shares at $600 and at $1,000. Apple has won the ecosystem and interface war, and must continue to innovate around its leadership position to grow the business. Going forward, consumer interest in owning future Apple products is a key metric to measuring Apple's pace of innovation.

There's another concern here. Munster just jinxed Apple with his headline grabbing $1 trillion market cap call. Microsoft hit the market cap record with a value of $619 billion in 1999. There were wild market cap projections then too. That market cap peak didn't turn out so hot for Microsoft, which is incidentally worth $276.5 billion today.

This item first appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog under the headline "The big jinx: Apple will be worth $1 trillion, says analyst."

 

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