On the heels of unveiling its shiny new iPad, Apple stock is fast approaching $600 per share. That milestone would be remarkable enough for a company that was trading at under $7 prior to a stock split less than ten years ago, but several Wall Street analysts are now tipping the company to crack the $700 barrier.
Apple, traded on the NASDAQ, closed Wednesday at $589.58, a 3.8 percent gain for the day for a company that's up 46 percent this year. In the past few weeks, at least four analysts have notified clients they believe Apple will gain at least another 19 percent and hit $700 or higher, according to Bloomberg.
Those analysts include Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley and Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley, who told the news agency that he's raised his price target for the company to $710. Bloomberg's most recent survey of a panel of 43 analysts yielded an average price target of $605, but Walkley said many of his peers may not have factored in the likely success of the new iPad, which industry watchers believe will further cement Apple's leadership in the tablet market.
"As [financial analysts] do their checks in the quarter and stronger numbers come through, it leads to better earnings power than we were seeing even six weeks ago," Walkley told Bloomberg. "Some analysts are behind the curve on estimates."
If Apple should make it to $700 a share, it would in all likelihood pass rival mobile tech giant Google along the way. Google, which makes the Android mobile operating system that runs smartphones and tablets that compete with Apple's products, dipped well below $600 in January but has been trading in the $600 to $620 range over the past couple of months.
But Google, with a market cap of $200.3 billion has just over 325 million available shares to Apple's more than 932 million shares and staggering market cap of $549.7 billion.
Apple has given investors a 555 percent return over the past five years, according toBloomberg, which noted that Apple's market share gains in just the past 12 months have come at the expense of sharp share price declines over that period for rivals like Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and Research in Motion.
The new iPad will hit stores Friday. Past Apple product releases strongly suggest there will be a mad rush for the company's third-generation iPads the first day they're made available— The Wall Street Journal estimates a million or more will be sold on launch day.
Will it be enough to push Apple shares to $700 a pop? With the way the company's going these days, why not shoot for $800?