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Apple is on the verge of becoming a trillion-dollar company

In after-hours trade on Wall Street the Apple share price has risen almost 4% to US$197.33 following the release of the tech giant’s third quarter results.

If the company’s shares open at this level it will be an all-time high and puts the Apple market capitalisation within a whisker of the US$1 trillion mark.

What happened in the third quarter?

In the third quarter Apple reported revenue of US$53.3 billion, up 17% on the prior corresponding period and around US$1 billion ahead of the market’s expectations according to CNBC.

Although the number of iPhones shipped fell a touch short of expectations at 41.3 million, the market appears to be overlooking this after the popularity of the more expensive iPhone X model helped lift the average selling price (ASP) per phone. Apple reported an ASP of US$724, compared to Wall Street’s $693.59 estimate.

Another key driver of growth was the company’s Services segment, which includes its App Store, Apple Pay, iTunes, and iCloud businesses. During the quarter its revenue grew a massive 28% to US$9.55 billion.

Pleasingly, this strong growth is expected to continue for some time to come. On its earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We feel great about the momentum of our services business, and we’re on target to reach our goal of doubling our fiscal 2016 services revenue by 2020.”

Mr Cook also advised that the Apple Pay service is growing strongly. During the quarter the service handled one billion transactions, over 200% higher than the prior corresponding period.

Looking ahead, Apple expects revenues to grow in the fourth quarter to between US$60 billion and US$62 billion.

Should you invest?

I think this result and its outlook demonstrates why Apple’s shares are a great buy and hold investment even at their record high.

Investors interested in buying Apple’s shares could do so through a brokerage service that gives access to the U.S. market. Alternatively, Australian investors could gain exposure to Apple indirectly through an exchange traded fund (ETF) such as the Betashares Nasdaq 100 ETF (ASX: NDQ).

This ETF gives investors exposure to Apple and all Nasdaq 100 shares such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google).

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended BETANASDAQ ETF UNITS. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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