If you were to invest in Apple you would effectively become a joint-owner of the company and, along with all the other shareholders, you would have a say in the decisions the company makes.
As a reward, your investment could grow as the company enjoys successes. You will also benefit from a share in the profits of the company in the form of dividend payments every quarter.
However the value of your investment can also decline. Tying your money to the success of any company is risky business. Should you take the risk with Apple?
Should I invest in AAPL shares?
First things first: Apple's share price is incredibly volatile. Don't invest if you want to make a quick buck. And definitely don't invest if you can't afford to lose your money. We're talking about the company whose share price hit the heady heights of $700 (£465) in September last year, only to plummet to $389.47 (£259) this April.
To be frank, the only people who make short-term gains are the big funds who plough millions into the stock only to take it out again a few months later (more on them below). Over the long term it could be possible for normal investors to make money out of Apple stock, however.
That said, Apple shares aren't cheap. But they are cheaper right now than they were this time last year. On 28 May 2012 AAPL shares would have cost you about $560.24 (£372) each, now a share of Apple costs $441.44 (£293).
You should only invest in Apple if you don't mind the fact that you could lose some of your money. As with any stock market investment, you can lose as well as gain money. However, compared to the rates of interest offered by many straightforward investments right now the returns, if you are lucky, could be far higher. Just don't count on it.
Key to your decision may be that you are an Apple fan with good knowledge in the company, and an interest in Apple that means that you follow the highs and lows of the company with interest. Nobody can predict the future, but at least you have good knowledge of what happened in the past.
Beware of well-paid analysts
If you are serious about your investment you must take any reports claiming to have an insight into what Apple has up its sleeve, or claims that Apple's share price will hit $1,00, with a pinch of salt. Nobody has a crystal ball so don't believe reports that claim to be able to predict what will happen over time. It's nice that people have faith in the stock (some of the time) but they may well have ulterior motives in getting you to invest your money. As Asymco's Horace Dediu said recently: "The opinion of those who are highly paid should be treated with suspicion." Be wary of analysts who work for financial services, noted Dediu, their paychecks "are not tied to accuracy of foresight".
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