News Column

Apple vs. Google by the Numbers

Dec. 14, 2012

By Matt Krantz

Apple's latest technology defeat at the hands of Google, in the area of maps, underscores how the two are going head-to-head in a tech battle in which the stakes loom large.

Apple and Google are increasingly becoming the tech titans poised to dominate mobile Internet access and devices. That leaves investors to wonder which is best positioned in what's looking like a winner-takes-all market.

While many people like to handicap the race between Apple and Google based on the number of smart- phone apps they offer, how many gadgets they ship or how thick the screens on their tablets are, investors are digging through the numbers to see how they measure up in terms of:

Stock performance. While Google may be beating Apple in smartphone sales, the battle on Wall Street has tilted in Apple's favor. Long-term Apple investors have pulled in one of the greatest hauls in investing history. The stock went public on Dec. 12, 1980, at $22 a share. After adjusting for the stock's three splits, Apple's per-share IPO price was $2.75. Today, those shares are trading for $529.69, an increase of 19,150%. Google went public Aug. 25, 2004, at $85. Those shares are now worth $702.70, a 725% increase.

This year, Apple investors have been on top. Despite the 30% decline in Apple shares from their high, they're still up 39% this year. Google's 2012 rise: 9%.

Market value. Apple is by far the most valuable company in the world, valued at nearly $500 billion. That's more than double the $230 billion valuation of Google.

Also, Apple trades for 44.2 times its trailing earnings per share excluding extraordinary items, says S&P Capital IQ. By the same measure, Google's P-E is 32.

Profitability and financial resources. Apple's early lead in smartphones and savvy marketing have afforded it a giant war chest of cash and profit. It generated $41.7 billion in profit on $156.5 billion in revenue over the past 12 months.

Accumulated profits give Apple cash and short-term investments of $29.1 billion, and an additional $92 billion in long-term investments. That's a cash pile few companies can rival, including Google with $44 billion in cash and short-term investments but just $1 billion in long-term investments. Google's net income of $10.6 billion on revenue of $47.5 billion isn't even half what Apple has achieved.

That's why while Google is beating Apple in getting its Android operating system, and now maps, into the most consumers' hands, Apple's premium pricing shows it is a bigger darling on Wall Street.

Source: (c) Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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