After Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) touched $600, it set off speculation about whether the stock is truly worth $600 a share.
Some consider Apple's parabolic run-up in price as a warning sign of a bubble. In December Apple was still trading under $400.
Others look at the escalating sales growth of such Apple products as the iPhone and iPad and see justification for a $600 stock, a $700 stock, or even higher.
So we at Money Morning thought it would be worth comparing Apple's annual earnings numbers with the rise in its stock price since 2006, the year before the iPhone debuted.
Although it is just one of many factors affecting a stock's price, projected earnings ranks among the most important.
The chart shows Apple's stock price tracking fairly closely to the rise in earnings over the past six years.
Analysts do expect Apple to keep growing earnings at an impressive clip for the next two years. They project increases of 91% in fiscal year 2012 and another 54% in 2013.
But the diverging lines in the chart – representing the 45% spike in AAPL just since January 1 – suggest the stock price may have gotten ahead of itself.
Apple at $600 a share looks a lot more reasonable in December 2012 than it does in today.