United States Steel was the first billion dollar corporation back in 1901. Apple looks like it will be the first trillion dollar corporation 117 years later.
The maker of the iPhone is not there yet. It was trading at $201.70 a share. The trillion dollar mark is reached at $207.05 a share.
Even though Apple is valued in inflated dollars, it is still worth much more than U.S. Steel was.
A billion dollars was 50 million $20 gold pieces. That alone is a number of coins that is hard to imagine.
APMEX values a random year Liberty Head gold $20 at $1,239. A trillion dollars would buy 807,102,500 of them. There are not that many in existence. Even if every single one that was ever struck was still around, there wouldn’t be enough gold $20s to equal $1 trillion.
However, we can arrive at the theoretical value of Apple as being over 16 times the value of United States Steel.
I did this exercise for the sake of round numbers. Wikipedia says the first billion dollar corporation was actually valued at $1.4 billion. That would be 70 million gold double eagles, which by coincidence is the total number of Saint-Gaudens $20s produced 1907-1933.
Using the $1.4 billion value would put Apple at 11.5 times United States Steel.
Of course, there is a little fudge factor for the Apple gold coin count because the APMEX price is higher than melt value. We collectors are used to paying the premium.
If Apple could find gold $20s that someone would sell for melt value, the gold value of the company would be a little bit higher.
In any case, Apple is big – even if the stock market ultimately just teases us with a trillion dollar value and then denies us the headline-making event. United States Steel went down after its debut in the Panic of 1901. Apple could do the same after reaching its milestone.
Will Apple appear in the history books as United States Steel did? We cannot know, but if the qualification for inclusion is who has the biggest pile of gold $20s, then Apple will be there outranking United States Steel.
Perhaps Apple should commission one of the Royal Canadian Mint’s million dollar gold coins to mark the occasion. A numismatic commemorative would be appropriate. United States Steel gave longevity medals to longtime employees. A medal to all of Apple’s employees would be a memorable gesture. Of course, they would soon be on the collector market.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today
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