What if you had bought Apple stock in 1997?

Buying 100 shares back then was a fairly small investment that would have brought big returns.

By Kim Peterson Oct 7, 2011 1:14PM
Steve Jobs is clearly one of the most universally admired chief executives in history. But it wasn't always that way.

He didn't have the faith of investors back in 1997, when he returned to Apple Computer. The company was barely hanging on, and when Jobs was named interim chief executive in September, the stock price was around $21.81 (or $5.45 adjusted for splits).

What if you had believed in him back then? What if you had bought 100 shares and sold them on Aug. 24, 2011, the day Jobs resigned as CEO?

Apple (AAPL) shares gained nearly 6,700% in that time. And those 100 shares? They eventually turned into 400, and you would have come away with a cool $150,000 or so before taxes.
Credit: ReutersThat investment would have required a lot of patience, however. Apple's share price stayed below a split-adjusted $8 until 2003. Then it began a slow climb until a 2-for-1 stock split in 2005. After that, the stock had more explosions than a Michael Bay movie.

The big question, of course, is what will happen to Apple shares now. Chief executive Tim Cook, an operations whiz who has been at the company since 1998, seems to have maintained investor confidence. Shares have dipped only about 1.6% since Jobs resigned -- and that's even after this week's ho-hum debut of the iPhone 4S. Shares closed Friday down 2% to $369.80.

One of a CEO's most important duties is to build a company that performs even after his or her departure, and Jobs likely did that very well. So investors are sticking with Apple even after its tremendous loss.
Tags: AAPL
52Comments
Oct 7, 2011 4:27PM
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Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.
Oct 7, 2011 7:46PM
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 some 12 years ago someone told me to invest everything I had in Yahoo,  I asked him are you sure, because it seemed like a silly investment,,  BUT, I took the plunge and sank all my cash into it.

  Not until a year later did I realize I had bought YooHoo, the chocolate drink, 

   So please buy some ,   ( I wanna die) 

Oct 7, 2011 4:30PM
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My little brother did this.  He was in only in 10th grade, but he knew what it meant to have Jobs back at Apple.  He was a huge Apple fan and had been working on them since he was 12 or so (early 90's).  He took all of the money he had from working a part time janitorial job after school and bought 50 shares.  He still has them.  He talked my Mom into buying too, but she sold them after the first split and put the money into some high flying dot com whose bubble burst.  I'll give to my bro.  It was a good move.
Oct 7, 2011 5:06PM
Oct 7, 2011 4:02PM
Oct 7, 2011 3:44PM
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I can't help but notice how wrong the math is based on the wording of this story.  If you bought stock in 1997 and Apple stock has split, not once, but TWICE, then you would 400 shares of stock.  If you sold those 400 shares of stock today, they would sell for $111,756 give or take a dollar.  Even if the stock had only split once, then it would have sold for $74,504.  Either way its a boat load of money that any of us wish we could go back and get involved in.
Oct 7, 2011 4:33PM
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It's like saying "What if you knew the future?" Then forget about stock keep on buying winning lottery tickets.
Oct 7, 2011 8:37PM
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If If  If If!!!!   IF MY AUNT HAD BALLS SHE WOULD BE MY UNCLE!!
Oct 7, 2011 4:32PM
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You don't have to go back that far to make a nice profit. I'm happy to have bought 50 shares on 5/26/09 at 127.16. It didn't make me rich, but that's almost a 200% gain. It was a scary time to buy anything. I wish all my purchases turned out as well. 
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The silver lining in Jobs' untimely demise is the inadvertent focus of attention on what's still great about this country. I sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of the garage and dorm room tinkerers that led to the Apples, MicroSofts, and Facebooks of the world.  

 

We need our best and brightest to continue the evolution of IT, high tech, and manufacturing breakthroughs. Unfortunately, many of our youngest and brightest computer engineering, business, and math graduates are recruited for grooming in the financial sectors and their mega volume stock and investment trading supercomputers. What has that done for us lately?

Oct 7, 2011 4:30PM
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Steve Jobs just passed away from cancer. If anyone thinks that he he just a profiteer just think about this. Next time your on the computer if it was for his forsight we wouldn't be on a personal computer. God Bless  Steve                   P.S: check apple site
Oct 7, 2011 6:47PM
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How about buying gold or gasoline in 1997 ??

Oct 7, 2011 6:25PM
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That is a remarkable statistic.  I remember seeing a documentary, if I recall correctly called "Triumph of the Nerds," done in the mid-90s, where the narrator explained that as a teenager, he'd been hired to help move Steve Job's business operation out of his garage.  They offered him the alternative of being paid the minimum wage or receiving a share of stock in Apple in payment.  He took the money, and his mother reminds him of his mistake every day since.  He'd now be a millionaire if he'd taken the stock.
Oct 7, 2011 4:13PM
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Yeah, Kim Peterson has her math wrong here. She forgot the splits. She should have written that you'd have 400 shares at current market value since it's split twice on Jobs' watch. That's over 120k.

 

 

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In other words...what if you had a crystal ball and could predict a company's earnings future? At that particular moment in the Apple continuum, a share of Apple stock was toxic before the term toxic was even considered cool. 

 

But if you took the time to consult your crystal or Magic 8 ball, you would have done well. Is there really a point to this story other than Jobs was THE MAN? Maybe that's it!

 

RIP one of America's last great innovators and true entrepreneurs.

Oct 9, 2011 9:40AM
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Life is full of if, if, and if.  When it's all said and done, you have what you have, did what you did, and nothing will change that. You came into this world with nothing and you'll go out the same way. Might get some satisfaction in knowing that you have your heirs going at each other. Other than that, you're not going to care about a thing. As was said many times, the stock market isn't a 2 dog race. Some win. Some lose. A soft touch. I look into  the eyes of my wife and nothing else really matters.
Oct 8, 2011 9:33PM
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With this information and $2, I can get a cup of coffee.

Oct 8, 2011 10:55PM
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Years ago when the US deregulated Gold, I bought a bunch the day after for $45 an ounce,cleverly figuring it would be a good investment. I was right and I sold it at $90 an ounce because I figured that would be as high as it would go. Oh well. If only we could know.
Oct 7, 2011 7:43PM
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what a petty article. who in this world can't say if i had done this or bought that i'd be rich.who cares. even though i did not know steve jobs but he seemed like a man of going forward for what he believed in no matter what happened.  you think he did it for the money. i'd say yes and no, and there is nothing wrong with that, he had a passion for what he wanted and proffited from his passion in life. i wish i had his skills! his life was cut short sadly , but why do a stupid article about what ifs now right after the man just passed?! money means nothing in the end, and the end comes faster than you think.shame on msn and kim peterson whoever you are for publishing such dribble.
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