Apple Just Became a $3 Trillion Corporation. It's Not Worth 1/10th That Much
We need to count the true cost of this earth-wrecking company
Just a quick note to say that I have a book due to my publisher in nine weeks, so it’ll be written-only until I can get back to recording audio versions in April. (But don’t worry, you’ll still receive three high-quality, well-researched, thought-provoking pieces per week from now until my deadline.)
Apple isn’t like Tesla.
Tesla is a story stock — a meme dream factory that trades on delusions and the greed of young speculators, run by the biggest tax grifter in American history, sure to lose its speculators a trillion dollars when it becomes another Peleton.
Apple is a real company.
It has a dominant market share, huge sales, loyal customers, and a decades-long track record.
And it just hit a $3 trillion market valuation.
If the company was owned by its 154,00 active contributors instead of passive extractors like Al Gore and his Blackrock buddies, they’d each be sitting on a $19.4 million fortune.
But let’s be honest: Apple isn’t worth a trilly.
It’s not even worth a tenth that much.
Let’s do some math.
Price to earnings
The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is considered the benchmark number for comparing one company’s stock price to another. The ratio is based on the current stock price divided by the trailing 12-month earnings per share. If a stock price is $10/share, and the P/E ratio is 10, it means that company is earning $1 per share. If you buy a $10 share with a P/E of 20, it’ll roughly take you 20 years to break even.
Warren Buffett likes to buy stocks with a P/E of around 12.
The S&P 500’s long-term median P/E ratio is less than 15.
The S&P 500’s current P/E ratio is around 29 — nearly double its century-long average — despite the pandemic. (#Bubble)
Apple’s P/E ratio is currently over 31.
That’s $1 worth of earnings for every $31 invested.
That’s like buying a business with an ROI of 3.2%… less than inflation.
That’s like acquiring a company that would take 31 years just to break even.
When this stock market bubble pops and P/E ratios temporarily reset to sanity, Apple will likely be worth half its current price — less than $1.5 trillion.
One of the main reasons why Apple has managed to grow into a thirteen-figure company is that it has a total disregard for the stable societies who have paid the costs of civilization that allow Apple to be successful in the first place.
The company has at least a quarter of a trillion dollars stashed offshore, avoiding and evading taxation in every nation possible, even hijacking a democracy to get a tax ruling overturned. It pays just pennies on the dollar — a significantly smaller percentage than you and I pay — making it a leading contender for the bigger taxpayer-subsidized corporation in history.
It also highlights the uncomfortable reality that Apple investors are literally profiting from withholding tax dollars from the commons; directly depriving children, single moms, minorities, those out of work, the elderly, and the working poor.
If nations decided to get serious about actually taxing Apple to help pay the costs of civilization — ideally through a no-brainer global minimum corporate tax rate — Apple’s bloated stock price would fall even more back in line with what it’s truly worth, probably somewhere around $750 billion, and the commons would be far richer for it.
“We have found no evidence of any forced labour on Apple production lines and we plan to continue monitoring.” — Apple PR (Spoiler alert: There is evidence.)
Apple says there isn’t any coerced labor in their supply chain, but they’re straight-up lying.
This is the same company, remember, that actively opposed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act just last month.
Which make sense, when you realize that thousands of slaves are forced to make components for Apple products, and that for decades, Apple products contained (and may still contain) conflict minerals mined by children.
Now, to be clear, Apple doesn’t go out of its way to use slave labor in the same way that Americans did with black people in the Antebellum South, but when you’re the biggest corporation on earth, things get extremely complicated and real human beings suffer and die for it.
I know it’s old-fashioned, but what if companies just weren’t allowed to exploit people? What if they could only grow to a size where they can still definitively prove they aren’t harming other human beings?
The reality is that corporate profit is simply the margin of exploitation between what you pay a worker and the total wealth that worker creates. If nations got serious about purging Apple of its slavery, and its coerced labor, and sweatshop labor, and its drastically underpaid and overworked international labor, it wouldn’t make nearly as much profit as it currently makes, further dropping its stock price to less than $500 billion.
Apple has produced more than 2.2 billion iPhones, with more than 1.65 billion Apple devices currently in use.
We simply cannot fathom the amount of mining, refining, smelting, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping pollution this level of production has created.
Nor do we have any clue in how in the world we’re going to deal with the clean-up when all these billions of devices inevitably get chucked into the ground and chemically poison our soil and leech micro-plastics into our water systems.
Apple tries its best to purposefully greenwash the public with claims of using clean energy and recycling, but the reality is that they are absolutely trashing the planet, devastating ecosystems with no end in sight.
If Apple had to pay the true and full environmental costs of its operations, its devices would have to either be significantly more expensive, or it would have to seriously cut into its profit margin. If democracy could force Apple to become a genuinely sustainable company — and it’s imperative that all companies on earth become so ASAP — Apple’s stock price would likely settle below $250 billion.
Long-term mental and physical wellbeing
History books will look back on our generation and shake their heads at the silly idea of homo sapiens trying to act like homo digitalis.
Human beings aren’t physically, mentally, emotionally, or relationally adapted for staring at boxes of light for 8–12 hours per day for decades on end.
It’s quite telling that Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids use iPads. The long-term mental and physical toll that Apple is taking on our bodies will someday be compared to the cigarette industry of the 1970s.
From a mental-health standpoint, I don’t know anyone who’s happier and healthier and more whole now that we live in the age of addictive social media, push notifications, hardcore porn, hookup culture, bingey streamers, algorithmic trading, fast food delivery, surveillance capitalism, and a 24/7 news cycle that keeps our digital nervous system in a constant state of fight or flight. We simply weren’t made for smartphones and their algorithms.
If governments eventually wake up (as some are now doing) and start to protect the next generation from addiction through reasonable boundaries like time limits, off-at-night features, and stopping cues, Apple will lose a huge amount of money as people stop gaming, gambling, shopping, and streaming 24/7. When the world clues in to the dangers of smart phones and does something meaningful about it, Apple stock could drop below $200 billion.
Undermining fairness and democracy
Apple is a nightmare for democracy and economic fairness.
I’m of the notion that only humans should be allowed to petition their elected officials for public benefit, and that private corporations and their billions should play zero role in the affairs of state.
As it stands, Apple actively fights against human wellbeing, including secretly opposing an anti-slavery bill, pushing against a major climate change bill, hiring pro-Trump lobbyists to avoid import taxes, and vehemently opposing Right to Repair bills under the guise of “privacy protection” — which is ironic, considering leaked documents show iPhones have an NSA back-door with a 100% surveillance success rate.
Even Apple admits they have lobbyists in D.C. and 44 states (though they call it “advocacy” and not “lobby-bribing Congress to exact private advantages.”) They also lobby indirectly by bankrolling dozens of associations and so-called “grassroots” organizations.
On the anti-competition front, Apple lobbies against fair competition and even threatened to pull investments out of Georgia (along with funding for a historically black college) if the state made them play fair. With an army of accountants, lobbyists, and lawyers, they shake democracy and fair markets like a pitbull with a ragdoll, even suing a mom-and-pop prepared meal service because their logo was another fruit.
And don’t fool yourself: Apple isn’t as innovative as you think. It’s grown to $3 trillion because corporate-captured Congress keeps letting them swallow their competition whole. Apple has purchased at least 125 companies so far, and is currently devouring a new company every three to four weeks. (If you’re wondering when enough will be enough, the answer is: They will not stop until they are stopped.)
If nation states were still strong enough to end Apple’s myriad anti-democracy, monopolistic, and anti-competition activities and break up the company — which they most definitely are not — Apple’s market cap would likely fall well below $100 billion.
Obviously, this is not how stock prices are valued in a market economy. Investors only care about one thing: #StockGoUp. When you understand the extent of Apple’s colossal fraud against humanity, you can totally see how it’s “worth” $3 trillion to extractive speculators.
But if we weren’t in a bubble and Apple couldn’t evade taxes and couldn’t exploit labor and had to pay the full environmental costs and the long-term mental and physical wellbeing of its products and was prevented from undermining economic fairness and democracy, Apple wouldn’t anywhere close to the four-comma club.
It would probably trade for less than a tenth of its current price tag.
But more importantly, what is Apple actually worth to humanity?
Believe it or not, but there are things that the market can never put a price on. Things like democracy, and freedom from exploitation, and environmental sustainability, and fair economics, and the non-monetary innate value of the countless human lives that Apple has injured on its warpath to $3 trillion.
Right now, Apple’s legal fiduciary obligation is to return profits to private shareholders. Maybe corporate America needs a new bottom line: Do no harm. The biggest company on earth shouldn’t be allowed to abuse the weak, poor, and vulnerable. They shouldn’t be allowed to turn a profit until they can prove they aren’t hurting others.
A personal call to action
Before we buy yet another phone, we need to ask ourselves: What is a Congolese boy or girl worth, or the grief of their parents as they watch their precious children choke to death on poisonous minerals?
When you boil it down, Apple has done little more than sold us a few billion plastic boxes designed to addict us, so that marketers can bombard us with ads, divide societal along political and racial lines, thus changing the course of our individual lives and collective history.
In other words, Apple is essentially worthless.
Corporations know nothing of what it means to be human. They don’t know or care about what leads to genuine health, happiness, and widest-spread wellbeing. They know nothing of love. All they understand and care about is profit, profit, profit.
Apple is just a giant extraction machine that exists to siphon wealth from late investors, taxpayers, laborers, users, and the environment.
In other words, it’s just like every other multinational corporation in human history.
Maybe someday stock prices will reflect this reality.
Or at least, they should.
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