The world's insatiable appetite for all things Apple appears to be reaching new levels. Silicon Valley's hottest company could soon become the world's first trillion-dollar company, according to Wall Street analysts.
This week analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets sparked a media frenzy with his headline-grabbing prediction that Apple's already sky-high share price will touch $US1,000 within 12 months. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster countered with an ever so slightly less bullish case that Apple's share price would hit four figures by 2014.
The technology group achieved another milestone on Thursday as Apple's stock price rose above Google's for the first time. Steve Jobs, Apple's late co-founder, is rumoured to have decided against splitting Apple's stock in order to one day pass Google's share price.
But for all the hoopla, the leap to $US1,000 would be a big hike for a company that has already enjoyed a record run on the stock exchange.
Last week Apple's shares were worth $US633.38 each – slightly more than a mid-range iPad. A year ago they were changing hands at $US341. At its current price Apple is valued at $US590.82bn, making it the most valuable company in the world. At $US1,000 Apple would be worth nearly $US1tn. No other company has been valued at anything like that price. "Apple fever is spreading like a wildfire around the world," White said in his report.
Just what might send Apple's shares to $US1,000 The answer is twofold: China and TV.
When Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, stepped up to fill Jobs' outsized sneakers, some worried Apple's glory days were behind it. But so far the company, based in Cupertino, California, has more than delivered.
In late January Cook announced record sales of iPhones and iPads as Apple more than doubled its profits to $US13.06bn, compared with $US6bn for the same quarter in 2010.
Cook said the company had sold a record 37.04m iPhones in the final quarter of 2011, a 128 per cent rise on a year ago. "We could have sold more if we'd had more supply," he said. The recently launched iPhone 4S proved to be the company's best seller in the quarter. "We could not be happier," said Cook.
The company reported record sales across nearly all product categories. Apple sold a record 15.43m iPads over the quarter, more than double the number of a year ago. And the company overtook Samsung as the world's top smartphone maker last quarter, according to the research group Gartner.
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