By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 4, 2011

How can investors wrap their heads around 16 quarters of double-digit growth?

To fend off what he calls “superlatives fatigue,” Asymco‘s Horace Dediu posted a pair of charts Wednesday that put Apple’s (AAPL) sales and earnings growth in perspective.

The first, at right, assigns color bands to low, moderate, high, very high and exceptional (triple-digit) growth.

The second, below, is a little harder to make sense of, but it shows how much bigger each of the company’s product lines is than it was a year ago, and how much more of its revenue Apple is retaining.

“It’s easy to become de-sensitized to the scope of these numbers,” writes Dediu, “but it bears repeating: the growth has been steadily increasing since 2009.”

You can read his full post — and subscribe to his RSS and Twitter feeds — here.

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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