Is Apple a must-own US stock in 2023?

There's still room for Apple to grow.

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This article was originally published on All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Every so often, a company comes along and has so much success that many investors end up retiring millionaires by simply going along for the ride. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is one of those companies. The tech giant has seen success matched by very few in history, and it has been rightfully earned. After all, it has world-class products, top-tier brand loyalty, and a bank account that other companies can only dream of having.

Past results are great, but a company's future outlook should be driving investing decisions. And although it's the largest public company in the world with a market cap of over $2.4 trillion -- more than Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and Tesla combined -- there's still room for noticeable growth for Apple.

Here's why it's a must-own for 2023.

Apple is just getting started in the finance industry

Apple first began its journey into the financial services space in 2014 with the announcement of Apple Pay, which allowed people to pay from their iPhones. However, this move was seen as more about convenience than Apple making its way into the space. Then came 2019 and the announcement of the Apple Card -- a sign Apple was clearly taking a step in that direction.

With the Apple Card, Apple relied on Goldman Sachs to approve applications and fund the loans, which is why when they announced Apple Pay Later -- their move into the buy now, pay later space -- it was no longer a mystery whether Apple was serious about becoming a player in the financial services industry. Apple Pay Later is the first time Apple is underwriting and funding loans by itself.

Apple has an advantage that no other financial institution can duplicate: Its iPhone is in more than 100 million hands in the US. Between the iPhone's world-class technology and the convenience it can provide, the company's play into the financial services space is bound to test even the most formidable of financial technology (fintech) competitors.

The iPhone still reigns supreme

The iPhone is arguably the greatest consumer product ever made; it has quite literally changed the world. Apple reportedly spent over $150 million developing the original iPhone, and to say they've reaped the returns on their investments would be the understatement of the century. In its 2022 fiscal year, Apple brought in $394.3 billion in revenue -- roughly $28.5 billion more than it did in 2021. The iPhone accounted for more than half of that, bringing in $205.4 billion.

The fact that the iPhone managed to increase its sales in a year defined by inflation not seen in decades is very telling of its power. In fact, this year was the first time ever that more people in the US used an iPhone than an Android phone. That's a remarkable milestone when you consider the iPhone's market share growth and much higher price point.

As long as the iPhone is padding Apple's bottom line, there's no reason to believe it won't continue to be one of the biggest cash cows you'll see from any business in any industry.

Apple is ramping up its research and development

Apple has historically spent a smaller portion of its revenue on research and development (R&D) than its other Big Tech competitors like Alphabet and Amazon. In 2020, here's how much the three companies spent on R&D and the percentage that was of their net sales:

  • Alphabet: $27.6 billion (15%)
  • Amazon: $42.7 billion (11%)
  • Apple: $18.8 billion (7%)

In 2021, Apple's R&D budget increased to $21.9 billion, and in 2022, it jumped up to $26.2 billion -- a company record. Although this still represents a relatively low percentage of Apple's revenue, it's a sign the company isn't getting complacent and is putting more emphasis on taking advantage of potential growth opportunities.

This article was originally published on All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

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. Stefon Walters has positions in Apple. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and Goldman Sachs. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended the following options: long January 2023 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2023 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2023 $265 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). 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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