Apple, the popular technology stock owned by millions of Americans through funds in their 401(k)s, has become the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a market value of $1 trillion.
The iPhone maker's milestone on Thursday follows an extraordinary stretch of innovation, and it arrives as the bull market for stocks, more than 9 years old, looks to overtake the 1990s bull run as the longest in history this month.
The company's good fortune is good news for individual investors.
Apple's stock is widely owned by workers ranging from teachers to electricians to lawyers. With a nearly 4 percent weighting, Apple is the biggest holding in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, an investment that most people own in 401(k)s through index funds and other types of funds that hold Apple shares.
"Apple's $1 trillion valuation is a great reminder to investors that companies with innovative ideas combined with world-class products and service can create value for investors over time," says Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones, a brokerage headquartered in St. Louis.
Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, a New York-based market research firm, says, “Apple’s gain boosts about every 401(k) since it is a big holding in just about every large-company mutual fund.”
The success of one stock, even one as influential as Apple, does not mean potential risks facing the broader stock market, such as worries over the economic fallout from tariffs or the economic impact of higher interest rates, will disappear, says Christian Thwaites, chief strategist at Brouwer & Janachowski, a Mill Valley, California-based wealth management firm.
However, Apple's financial feat doesn't feel like a signal that the market has reached its peak given the strength of the U.S. economy, says Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a money-management firm based in Washington.
The iPhone maker's stock broke the $1 trillion barrier when it briefly hit the share price of $207.05 at 11:48 a.m. ET, according to online brokerage TD Ameritrade.
At the close of trading Thursday, Apple shares, which rose $5.89 to $207.39, were up 22.5 percent in 2018, more than double the return of the broad S&P 500, which has gained 5.7 percent.
Apple’s accomplishment is a first for a U.S. company. The market capitalization of Chinese oil and gas company PetroChina briefly topped $1 trillion when the firm’s stock made its Asia trading debut in November 2007.
The tech giant's rise has been driven largely by its wildly successful iPhone, which has been instrumental in shaping our mobile world and is a staple of daily life for tens of millions of Americans who use it to make calls, send texts, snap photos, check Facebook and stay on top of the news.
Given that the S&P 500 is weighted by market value, Apple, as the most valuable company in the index, exerts the biggest impact on the index's price moves.
"Apple truly is the apple of the market's eye," says Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank in Chicago.
Apple won the race to $1 trillion, edging out rivals such as Amazon (whose market cap was $877 billion as of Wednesday's close, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices), Google parent Alphabet ($858 billion) and Microsoft ($817 billion), the other main contenders racing to reach the milestone.
More Money: Apple jumps after strong third-quarter report
Apple's strength is a big reason why Thorne Perkin, president of Papamarkou Wellner Asset Management in New York, is still bullish on the stock.
"We're still big believers in Apple," Perkin tells USA TODAY, citing the company's strong earnings and the huge amounts of cash it returns to shareholders via dividends and stock repurchases.
Still, after the record-setting rally, investors should check whether their Apple holdings represent too large a portion of their overall portfolio, Farr advises. If so, they should consider trimming the position to better manage risk.
Wall Street pros say Apple's ability to grow so large has been driven by a confluence of factors, ranging from its global reach, the explosion in global smartphone demand and the rise and proliferation of the internet.
Apple enjoyed a "first mover advantage," because it got ahead of the competition in the mobile phone space in 2007 when it launched the first version of its iPhone.
"Apple has global market appeal and brand power," says Joe Quinlan, chief market strategist at U.S. Trust in New York. "With the iPhone, they've created market demand virtually out of thin air."
The company generates significant sales from its services unit, which includes its App Store, Apple Pay, iTunes and its iCloud business. In its most recent fiscal third-quarter, services revenue jumped 31 percent to $9.55 billion.
Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management in Des Peres, Missouri, sums up Apple's accomplishment this way: "It shows that if you offer great products that are better than what anyone else has, people will beat a path to your door."