As a company, Apple is the most profitable enterprise in history, a maker of powerful luxury goods that its customers view as necessities. As a stock, Apple is a market misfit, hard to slot into any handy category or style.
Apple's combination of enormous size, acute reliance on the next new product, inscrutable long-term plans, lofty profitability and stupendous cash holdings is unique in the equity universe.
Given all this, what matters most for Apple at a given moment is always in the eye of the beholding investor, and the stock gets whipped around in cycles of harsh disappointment and over-excitement. This dynamic helps explain how a company can add $65 billion in market value, as Apple did last week.
Apple's misfit status is built on a few paradoxes: