At $1.3 trillion these days, Apple’s a pretty darn valuable company. But how much could you have netted had you been smart enough to invest in the company in December 1980 when the stock first went public?
Obviously that depends on how much you’d have invested in the Cupertino computer company, and how long you had the nerve to keep the stock. A new report by CashNetUSA ran the numbers for a $1,000 investment in 1980. And, well, you’d be pretty happy with the results.
According to CashNetUSA, a $1,000 investment in Apple in December 1980 would be worth $651,000 today.
When Apple had its initial public offering of 4.6 million shares in December 1980, AAPL was valued at $22 per share. More than 40 out of 1,000 Apple employees become instant millionaires. As Apple’s biggest shareholder, 25-year-old Steve Jobs ended the day with a net worth of $217 million. Since then, Apple has had several stock splits. Its most recent 7-to-1 stock split took place in June 2014. At the time, AAPL was valued at $92. Today, it is trading at $302.74.
When Apple had its IPO, its latest computer was the disastrous Apple III. That machine retailed for a starting price of $4,340. Today, a mint-condition Apple III will net you about $1,000. A used, but working, model will earn you about $650. Had you invested that same cash in stock, however, you’d be sitting on $2.8 million today.
1980 and beyond: An investment worth holding onto
Keeping your nerve through those years would have been fairly tough, however. It’s easy to support Apple now that it’s a financial titan able to increase its market cap the equivalent of Nike and Spotify combined in just a couple of days. But it wasn’t such a sure thing back in the 1980s when it sacked Steve Jobs. Or in the 1990s, when it was being pounded by Microsoft, or at various crisis points since then. It wasn’t until after Tim Cook took over as CEO in 2011 that AAPL started going stratospheric.
Interestingly, Apple isn’t the best tech stock you could have invested in after 1980. Amazon went public in 1997. A $1,000 bet on Amazon back then would net you $1.43 million today. Surprisingly, an investment in Adobe Systems in 1986 would have beaten Apple, too — with $1.27 million in returns. Cisco would have beaten Apple as well — with a $752,000 return on what would have been a $1,000 investment in 1990.
Still, it would be tough to complain too much about your Apple returns. There’s a reason that those who hung onto shares are living the good life right now.