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What coronavirus? Apple becomes a $2 trillion company

The iPhone maker, which nearly went bankrupt in the 1990s, is now the most valuable tech company on the planet.

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The entrance to Apple Park's Steve Jobs Theater, named after the company's late co-founder and CEO.

James Martin/CNET
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Just two years ago, Wall Street investors pushed Apple to a trillion-dollar market capitalization, making it the most valuable tech company in the world. Now, even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the market says Apple is worth twice as much.

At around 7:53 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Aug. 19, Apple's stock hit $467.55 a share, which when multiplied by the nearly 4.3 million shares outstanding, values Apple at $2 trillion, give or take a few dollars. The move came before the company's planned stock split on Aug. 24, which will multiply the number of shares by four and divide each share's value by four. Apple said it initiated the stock split to make it easier for more people to buy shares in the company.

The milestone is largely symbolic. Still, it highlights Apple's unlikely rise from nearly bankrupt in 1997 to titan of industry today. Apple's success has largely been attributed to the leadership of people such as Steve Jobs, the company's late co-founder and CEO, former design chief Jony Ive and current CEO Tim Cook

A look at Apple's stock trading a couple minutes after it hit $2 trillion in value.

Google Finance, oddly enough

Under Jobs, Apple released well-regarded products such as the Macintosh computer in 1984, the iMac in 1997, the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. Ive and Cook worked with Jobs after his other computer company, NeXT, was purchased by Apple in 1996.

At $2 trillion, Apple's value is greater than the economies of all but eight countries, according to data collected by the World Bank.

Apple follows Saudi Aramco, a multinational oil and gas company based in Saudi Arabia, in reaching the milestone. Saudi Aramco reached $2 trillion on its second day of trading on the Saudi stock exchange in December after holding the biggest IPO in history, raising $25.6 billion in share sales.

"Financial returns are simply the result of Apple's innovation, putting our products and customers first, and always staying true to our values," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a memo to staff after the company reached $1 trillion, according to Reuters. Cook has frequently said that investors looking for Apple to focus on stock performance rather than its products shouldn't invest in the company.

The historic moment also comes before Apple is expected to release its highly anticipated 5G iPhone, supporting next-generation cellular wireless data speeds potentially 10 times faster than the rate at which phones can download today. That means, for example, that people can download an entire season of a TV show in seconds.

Analysts say they expect that the upcoming device's new capabilities will touch off a "super cycle" of sales, with large swaths of iPhone owners and new converts purchasing the device.

"From a demand perspective, we estimate that ~350 million of Apple's 950 million iPhones worldwide are in this upgrade window," Wedbush Securities analysts wrote in a June memo to investors. "Apple remains our favorite 5G play."