After peaking at $705 last September, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares broke below $400 this past week for the first time since December 2011. That $305 per share loss translates into $286 billion in market cap lost in a matter of months. That’s an astounding amount to have evaporated in such a short period of time, mostly resulting from growth deceleration, high-end market saturation, and — most of all — fear.
The value that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors have lost in aggregate since September could buy an awful lot of things. What could shareholders have purchased or paid for with $286 billion?
1 Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and 3 Netflixes
With longtime rival Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s entire valuation currently under $250 billion, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors could have theoretically swallowed the software giant whole with as much as they’ve lost. With the change left over (“can you break a 286 billion dollar bill?”), the Mac maker could have also scooped up Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) three times over just for good measure. Buying the dominant online video streamer has been entertained before.
Almost 2 International Space Stations
With development beginning in 1994, the International Space Station has cost an estimated total of $150 billion over the past 19 years to build, operate, and maintain. Only approximately $100 billion has been borne by the U.S., with other countries pitching in to help foot the bill. For $286 billion, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors could have nearly financed two orbital research facilities.
14 million discouraged European workers
One of the European Union’s research agencies, Eurofound, conducted a study late last year that estimated the cost of Europe’s “lost generation,” 14 million out-of-work and discouraged young Europeans. Aged 15 to 29, these individuals are not employed and not pursuing education and training, in part because of difficult macroeconomic conditions across the pond. The report estimates that this group altogether is costing the EU approximately 3 billion euros per week in state welfare and lost production, which translates into 153 billion euros annually. That translates into $200 billion of annual costs, well under our imaginary budget.
4 Hurricane Sandys
Easily the worst climate disaster to hit the Northeast last year was Hurricane Sandy. Economic losses, damages, and other costs related to the superstorm have been estimated at $65 billion. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shareholders could have covered those damages more than four times and still had money left over.
Nearly 3 iPad Minis for every person in America
With the entry-level iPad Mini starting at $329, Apple could have handed out 869 million of the devices with its market-cap losses. That would be enough for nearly three small tablets for each of the 315 million people in the U.S. today.