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Apple Stocks app mistakenly shows company as first trillion-dollar firm after share price rise

Confusion was caused by a technicality about the company's shares

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 02 August 2018 16:25 BST
iPhone X — Unleash — Apple

Apple's Stocks app has mistakenly labelled its creator as the world's first trillion-dollar company.

The firm has been hovering around the $1 trillion mark for some time, and breaking through would represent a major milestone. But the company falsely claimed to have already broken through it, because of a technical fault with the app built into the iPhone.

After it announced its better-than-expected results this week, Apple also bought back some of its shares. That meant that the stock price needed to push through the record went up – from around $204 to $207.

But that update wasn't added to Apple's own Stocks app. That meant that a small surge in Apple's shares showed the company as being worth $1 trillion – even though it isn't.

It led to reports, including briefly on The Independent, that suggested Apple had finally beaten the milestone.

The share price data on the iPhone is provided by Yahoo Finance and pulls through not only on the app – which comes bundled with the phone – but also into Siri. That means that if you ask Siri for the current value of Apple's whole stock, it will tell you the wrong answer: $1.011 trillion at the time of publication.

While breaking through the trillion-dollar mark would be an important milestone for the market, it makes little practical difference to Apple or its shareholders. But the confusion points to the huge interest in the company's market value.

The problem happened because Apple's substantial share buyback programme – which allows it to give money back to investors – meant that some of its shares were destroyed. That took them out of circulation and meant that the total number of shares in issue went down, increasing the value the share price had to reach before it pushed the company over $1 trillion.

A company's market capitalisation or value is worked out by multiplying its share price by the number of shares that are in issue. Since there are now fewer shares, the price required to make Apple worth a trillion dollars is higher.

Apple's shares are worth $205.18, after a rise of $3.73 on Thursday morning, according to the company's own Stocks app. They need to reach $207.05 before they push through the all-important valuation.

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