The superlatives surrounding the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) brand are so great that books can be written about them. But with a market cap that now vies with Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) for the largest company in the world, squeezing more gains out of Apple is going to be a slower affair. But for those of us looking out for the next Apple, we would do well to understand what makes Apple so great by the numbers. So here are five numbers that are indicative of Apple's success:
1) 22% - Apple's return on assets. This is a lean and focused company. Among the 103 companies with a market cap greater than $50 billion, only Phillip Morris (NYSE:PM) ranks higher. When your only peer is a company whose product depends on a chemical addiction, you know you've got a good product. Though one must admit, the dopamine hit one gets from using the iPhone or iPad is borderline addictive.
2) $109,000 - Apple's net income per employee. Apple is leading the pack in the technology world by a wide margin. Google comes in next at $87,000. The result? Apple is one of the most efficient and high margin businesses money can buy.
3) 0 - Number of acquisitions over a billion dollars Apple has made since 2000. Bottom line: Apple hasn't frittered away its profits by reinvesting them in acquisitions that lower its return on capital. Growth has been generated internally, a sure sign of a company with plenty of business opportunities within its circle of competence.
4) 8.5% - Apple's SG&A as a percent of total sales. Tough to find a screener that has this one, but I've yet to find a company with a lower ratio. The meaning? Apple products sell themselves. Apple doesn't have to spend hardly any money to drive revenues. When your product sells itself, a lot more of revenues get to fall to the bottom line.
5) 0 - Apple's long term debt. While it would be hard to ever justify debt with $80 billion in cash on the balance sheet, Apple hasn't always been so cash rich. Even in the beginning stages of Apple's renaissance, the company was managed conservatively. As an added plus for investors, the lack of debt makes the company very easy to analyze.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.