Posted: July 2nd, 2012 | Author: Martin Delaney |
If you are one of the tens of millions that have seen Robert Zemeckis’s 1994 epic Forest Gump, then you may well remember a short scene [below] where Forrest reveals that Lieutenant Dan invested some of the profits from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in ‘some kind of fruit company’, known to the rest of us as Apple Computer Inc.
Although the event is obviously completely fictional, as a way of illustrating Apple’s extra-ordinary growth I thought it would be interesting to consider what return such an investment would be valued at today. It is worth noting at this stage that no specific dollar investment amount was specified by Forrest in the movie, so we are going to use a notional amount of $100,000.
There are also numerous other factors that make it nigh on impossible to make any kind of accurate calculation on their actual return, such as this article does not take into consideration any pre-IPO stock dilution or the money Forrest receives from selling part of the investment to renovate his local church, build a medical centre, and numerous other projects. But by filling in the blanks here and there we can come to a very rough ballpark figure of what their investment would have looked like today if they had not cashed out at any point.
In 1975 Forrest leaves his successful shrimping company in the hands of Lieutenant Dan and returns home to Greenbow, Alabama to look after his ill mother. The letter of thanks that he opens from Apple Computer Inc shortly thereafter is dated 23rd September 1975. Note: This part in the movie is actually a ‘goof‘ as Apple was not formed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, & Ronald Wayne until 1976, and the company was not incorporated as ‘Apple Computer Inc’ until 3rd January, 1977.
Many interpret this scene as conveying that the business duo’s investment was a pre-IPO early stage funding round, often known as a ‘seed round‘ within the industry. Judging by the slightly altered timeline, their funds would have been used to assist the fledging technology company in building and buying in parts for their first ever order of 50 Apple I units [one of these recently sold at auction for a lot of money] from The Byte Shop, a personal computer retailer.
In a ‘seed’ or ‘Series A’ round the investor can take anywhere from a 5% – 50% interest in the company, depending on the circumstances. According to John Wilson’s 1985 book ‘The New Venturers’, Apple Computer Inc raised $500,000 from a group of investors in return for 15% equity in early 1978. For the purpose of this article we shall say that Forrest and Lieutenant Dan were participating in this round, and that their $100,000 contribution gave them a 3% stake in Apple Computer Inc. This event values Apple at just over $3.3m.
Apple’s initial public offering took place on 12th December 1980 at a price of $22 per share. A total of 5,000,000 shares were offered to the public and 49,215,332 were kept with the company, its directors, and pre-IPO shareholders. Added up, there were a total of 54,215,332 shares in existence. Forrest and Lieutenant Dan’s holding is now somewhere in the region of 1,476,460 shares. At a closing price of $29 on the stock’s first day of trading, their investment would be worth $42,817,340.
The novel which the movie is based upon [above] was authored by Winston Groom and released in 1986. On 21st July of that year Apple announced a large stock buyback, this event combined with the overall performance of the company pushed the shares up to a value of $33.25 by the close of business that day. Their stock now sits at a healthy value of $49,092,295.
By 16th April 1987 [less than a year later] Apple stock had sky-rocketed to $70.50 due to among other things, double digit growth in the sale of Apple II units and an ever increasing popularity in personal computers. This pushes their investment through the $100m barrier, to $104,090,430. Later that year in June their was a two for one stock split which meant that the share price reduced by around 50%, but the number of shares owned by Forrest & Lieutenant Dan doubled to 2,952,920, making their overall position equal to before the event.
The movie we have all come to know and love was released in July, 1994. By 23rd July 1994 Apple stock was trading at $31 due to among other things, the ageing of a couple of its major product lines such as the Macintosh. This stock price is below the previous heights of the late 1980s, even after adjusting for the prior stock split. Forrest and Leitenant Dan’s investment is now worth $91,540,520.
Even though their investment hasn’t seen the kind of growth they were used to in the early years, as we all know the guys need not worry as even though there will be a few more years after this point of worrisome stock price fluctuation, they [or those that inherit their investment] will within a decade be experiencing tears of joy.
As seemingly everyone knows right now, Apple has had a phenomenal start to the 21st century. A handful of revolutionary designed products pioneered by Steve Jobs such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad have been sold around the world on an unprecedented scale. This has pushed their stock price through the roof, as the below chart shows.
After accounting for two more stock splits in 2000 and 2005, Forrest & Lieutenant Dan’s holding now stands at 11,811,680 shares. As of today, 2nd July 2012, Apple is trading at $591. That means their initial investment of $100,000 back in 1978 is now worth…
Nice going guys, you are now extremely wealthy individuals, far richer than the writer of your story originally intended!
Update: If you are viewing this article beyond its date of publication (2nd July 2012) and wish to know what the duo’s investment is worth as of the time of reading, take their total number of shares (11,811,680) and multiply that figure by Apple’s current stock price.