Apple hits record after December surge sends it past Amazon

Jeran Wittenstein and Ryan Vlastelica

Apple Inc. shares briefly rallied to an intraday record on Tuesday, continuing a year-end surge that’s cementing its lead over Inc. as 2020’s best performer among the largest technology stocks.

Apple has advanced 13% in December amid signs of strong demand for its iPhone 12 models and optimism about its self-driving car efforts. The gains propelled Apple past Amazon with an 84% rally in 2020 compared to Amazon’s 80% increase. The S&P 500 is up 15% this year.

Wall Street has grown increasingly bullish on Apple’s prospects in the coming year with analysts projecting that a recovering economy will fuel even more demand for iPhones, wearables such as Airpods and services. Apple’s revenue growth is expected to increase to 15% in fiscal 2021 from 6% in 2020, and profit growth is projected to double to 20%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

After enjoying a boom in e-commerce sales this year, Amazon is expected to see slower expansion in 2021. Revenue is projected to climb 19% in 2021 after expanding at an estimated 35% clip in 2020.

Apple rose as much as 1.5% to $138.79 before closing with a 1.3% decline. The Cupertino, California-based company is trading at 34 times projected 2021 profit, up from 10 at the beginning of 2019. Amazon is valued at 56 times estimated earnings.