Apple is so nearly there. Becoming the first publicly traded company with a market value of $1 trillion is a tantalizing prospect. But it's really just a number.
Breakingviews was in the vanguard suggesting Apple might win the race to $1 trillion, first saying so back in 2011 when its market capitalization was just $342 billion. As of midday Wednesday, with its stock up 5 percent to around $200 a share after a strong earnings report the evening before, the value is about $985 billion.
If the company led by Tim Cook hadn't bought back $20 billion of stock in the April-June quarter, it would already have topped the magic number.
On the other hand, stripping out the huge pile of net cash it still holds – $129 billion as of June 30, down from $145 billion three months earlier – Apple's enterprise value, in theory the worth of its operating businesses, comes in only a little over $850 billion, leaving some way to go.
Another 1.5 percent nudge upward and Apple will get there on the market-capitalization measure. With an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco looking increasingly unlikely, only a surge in the value of Jeff Bezos' Amazon – currently with a market cap of $870 billion – or Alphabet, at $850 billion, could feasibly sneak in first.
Yet depending on how you measure the iPhone maker's business, Apple both is and isn't already a 13-digit company. Trillion-dollar valuation or not, it's a phenomenal money machine.