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Apple’s market valuation closed above $3tn for the first time as its shares hit a record high on Friday and the wider technology sector rallied.

Shares in the company rose 2.3 per cent to $193.97 on the final trading session for June, while the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite index gained 1.4 per cent to notch for its best start to a calendar year since 1983.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 added 1.2 per cent on Friday, with stocks lifted by lower than expected inflation data giving investors hope that interest rates could soon hit their peak.

Apple’s market value has rebounded 49 per cent this year, adding nearly $1tn in market value and far outpacing a 15.9 per cent gain for the broader S&P 500 index. Apple first crossed $3tn in early 2022, but it never finished a session above the milestone.

Under chief executive Tim Cook, Apple has grown larger than Alphabet and Amazon combined and has a $500bn lead over its nearest rival, Microsoft.

“Investors are positive on the margin expansion seen in the past couple of years, which is supported by increased sales of high-end iPhones and strength in services,” said Shannon Cross, analyst at Credit Suisse.

Apple was the first company to achieve a $1tn valuation in August 2018 and two years later became the first company to be valued at $2tn.

When Apple hit $3tn on the first day of trading in 2022, the peak proved brief, and markets later spiralled down following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. At the time, shares reached as high as $182.86 — lower than they are now, since there are fewer shares available following extensive buybacks.

Line chart of $ per share showing Apple share price hits record high

Apple shares ended last year down 29 per cent. Revenues were curtailed in the holiday quarter after an outbreak of Covid-19 in supplier Foxconn’s “iPhone city” in Zhengzhou led to production-line shutdowns and worker protests against strict policy measures.

The tech giant’s latest record is arguably more significant than its previous peak in January 2022, when the broader S&P 500 was worth more than $40tn, versus $37tn now, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Many companies at that time had benefited from work-from-home trends induced by the pandemic and pushed to unsustainable valuations. The US Federal Reserve had not yet embarked on its rate-rise cycle to battle inflation.

Microsoft’s stock is up 42 per cent this year thanks to market hype around artificial intelligence, where it has become a leader after partnering with OpenAI, the start-up behind ChatGPT.

The factors behind Apple’s soaring stock are less obvious, as it has recorded back-to-back quarters of revenue declines — following a 14-quarter growth streak. Analysts also project full-year revenues this year of $385bn, a fall of 2.4 per cent and only the third decline of the past 22 years.

But Apple’s longer-term potential to return to growth is strong as the iPhone’s share of the market picks up globally, particularly in India and emerging markets where it has just single-digit market share.

“Apple’s $3tn market cap reflects the company’s long-term focus on continuing to develop and control the key elements of their IP — software, silicon, devices and services with a concentration on providing the best customer experience,” said Cross at Credit Suisse.

Tom Forte, analyst at DA Davidson, an investment bank, attributed Apple’s rally to an improvement in the supply chain after China ended its zero-Covid policy last year, and investors putting more cash into quality stocks following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March.

The new high also comes three weeks after the iPhone maker announced an expensive headset that could set the company’s future course beyond the smartphone.

The Vision Pro “spatial computing” headset is broadly seen as the most significant product launch from Apple since the iPhone in 2007.

Evercore ISI estimates that Apple could sell 14mn headsets “in the first few years” — a much slower start versus the Apple Watch or iPhone. But, at a price point of $3,500 per unit, the investment bank estimates it could add $19bn to overall revenue within five years.


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