Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock has undoubtedly made more than a few millionaires. Sure, for more than two decades, it was largely a disappointment. But when the tech company's stock took off... it took off. Here's a look at the stock's interesting history.
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Apple stock history
Since Apple went public on December 12, 1980 at $22, or a split-adjusted $0.39, it has appreciated more than 21,000%, handily beating the S&P 500's approximate 1,600% return during the same period. AAPL is up about 1,000% in the last 10 years.
This chart shows the complete AAPL history.
Impressively, Apple stock's outperformance during its long history has largely been driven by less than 10 major achievements and innovations -- all of which proceeded to drive significant long-term success for the company.
Data retrieved from Apple press releases. Chart source: author.
Three products, in particular, were absolutely crucial in Apple stock's incredible track record. The first was Apple's colorful iMac, which was Steve Jobs' first consumer-facing product after his return to Apple. The second was iPod, along with more affordable models to follow, including iPod mini, shuffle, and nano. And Apple's most game-changing product ever was arguably iPhone. Along with its annual refreshes that followed the first version, iPhone can be largely credited as the key driver behind the bulk of Apple stock's market-crushing performance.
Before these products began meaningfully impacting Apple's bottom line, the company struggled. Indeed, between its IPO in 1980 and the end of 2004, the stock actually underperformed the S&P 500. After Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985, the tech giant struggled from a lack of product focus and faced major headwinds from competition, namely the game-changing release of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system.
10-year Apple stock history
The last 10 years have been particularly lucrative for Apple shareholders, with the stock outperforming the S&P about 15 times over. Investors can thank the iPhone for much of this period's return. iPhone sales have soared since the device's introduction. In the trailing 12 months alone, Apple has sold a whopping 215 million iPhones. This compares to about 6 million iPhone sales during the device's first year.
Stock split history
With a stock history as impressive as Apple's, you can bet the company has split its shares. Here's a look at the stock's four splits (a more complete look at Apple's stock splits can be found here).
Asterisk indicates the first date shares traded on a split-adjusted basis. Table source: author.
Importantly, all the returns discussed in this article were adjusted for splits.
With Apple delivering such impressive returns for shareholders in the past, it's tempting to conclude investors should expect similar results in the future. But investors should note that Apple is a much larger company today. In the trailing 12 months alone, the tech giant has earned a whopping $220 billion in revenue. Gains in intrinsic value per share are simply harder to come by at this size.
But investors shouldn't write off AAPL stock, either, as it would be a mistake to not give any weight to the company's excellent history of launching entirely new products in new categories, and capitalizing on growth opportunities.
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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.