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Tae Kim

Apple’s $3 Trillion Valuation Should Unnerve Investors

The tech giant became the first publicly traded company to reach the milestone. It’s a breathtaking figure that’s hard to justify.

Not a sure bet.

Not a sure bet.

Photographer: Valerie Macon/AFP/via Getty Images

Apple Inc. became the first publicly traded company valued at $3 trillion on Monday, touching the historic milestone briefly after a weeks-long rally in its stock price. Yet for investors looking for a surefire bet as 2022 gets under way, the sudden surge ought to give them pause.

The climb has been striking. Since mid-November, as major stock indexes have stayed roughly flat, Apple shares have risen more than 20%, bringing the company’s value to a once hard-to-fathom $3 trillion, the first time a publicly traded company has reached that lofty milestone. To put it in perspective, that’s more than the gross domestic product of most countries.

Some have suggested the surge in Apple shares can be explained as a safe-haven bet. As the Federal Reserve begins to withdraw monetary stimulus, the theory is portfolio managers are jettisoning growth stocks, whose price-to-sales ratios are shrinking, and seeking refuge in Apple as a cash or gold equivalent.