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Apple becomes a trillion-dollar company

The company, which nearly went bankrupt in the 1990s, hits a market capitalization that's bigger than the GDPs of all but 15 countries.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has overseen explosive growth at the iPhone maker. 

James Martin/CNET

It's official. Apple on Thursday became worth over $1 trillion. Yes, that's right, $1 trillion. As in $1,000,000,000,000. 

Shortly before 9 a.m. PT on Thursday, Apple's stock hit $207.05 a 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.

The stock dipped below that level during Thursday's trading session but closed up 2.9 percent at $207.39, cementing the iPhone maker's new status as a trillion-dollar company and the first US public company to hit that level.

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That made Apple worth more than all but the 15 richest countries in the world, based on 2017 data from the CIA World Factbook (that's the number with a gross domestic product totaling more than $1 trillion last year). And this is only the second time a public company has ever been valued in the 13 digits. PetroChina, an oil and gas company, topped $1 trillion for a short time on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2007. 

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.

"Financial returns are simply the result of Apple's innovation, putting our products and customers first, and always staying true to our values," Cook wrote, according to Reuters, which saw a copy of the memo. 

He also referenced Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the memo. "Steve founded Apple on the belief that the power of human creativity can solve even the biggest challenges -- and that the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do," Cook wrote.

Apple has been on a tear over the past few years. The company's iPhone is one of the best-selling devices in the world, and Apple's fiscal fourth-quarter revenue projections indicate it's optimistic about the phones expected in September. At the same time, the company has been expanding into new markets like wearables, and revenue from its software and services, like Apple Music and the App Store, have been soaring. 

Last year's iPhone X was the first major iPhone design in three years. Apple ditched the TouchID button in favor of Face ID technology and touted the device as the "future of mobile." Since it hit stores Nov. 3, the iPhone X has been Apple's best-selling device. That's even though it's the most expensive phone Apple's ever sold. The 5.8-inch device starts at $999, or $300 more than the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and $200 more than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus.

Apple is expected to introduce three new iPhones in September, including the possibility for a model considerably larger than the iPhone X and another that's significantly less expensive.

All of that has helped Apple become the most valuable public company in the world. 

Some analysts believe that even though Apple is valued for the moment at over $1 trillion, it's worth even more still. 

"In the end, we continue to believe Apple remains one of the most underappreciated stocks in the world with a valuation that remains depressed," Monness Crespi Hardt analyst Brian White noted. 

Originally published Aug. 2, 8:59 a.m. PT
Update, Aug. 2 at 1:05 p.m. PT with Apple's closing share price.
Update, Aug. 3 at 6:14 a.m. PT: Adds details of CEO Tim Cook's memo.

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