Apple May Climb Above $700 As IPad Sales Begin, Analysts Say

By Sarah Frier – Mar 14, 2012 5:15 PM ET

Apple Inc. (AAPL), getting a boost from anticipation of the new iPad, rose to a record today and may climb 19 percent to $700, according to analysts who raised their price targets for the stock.

A new Apple Inc. iPad during its launch in Sydney, Australia, on March 16, 2012. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

The iPad’s new display has four times as many pixels as the previous version, making on-screen text, images and video appear crisper and more realistic. Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Attendees and members of the media view Apple Inc.’s new version of the iPad tablet computer after its unveiling at an Apple event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

At least four analysts, including Katy Huberty at Morgan Stanley in New York, have increased price targets to $700 or higher in the past two weeks. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, rose3.8 percent to $589.58 at the close in New York and has gained 46 percent this year.

More are likely to boost targets as they quantify the market share of the new iPad, said Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, who raised his target to $710 yesterday. The average price target of 43 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is $605, which could mean updates are lagging behind, he said.

“As they 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 said in an interview. “Some analysts are behind the curve on estimates.”

Shares of some Apple competitors have languished as the company takes market share. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), which has tried competing with Apple through smartphones, tablets and personal computers, has tumbled 41 percent in the past 12 months. Nokia Oyj has fallen 40 percent. Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, has dropped 79 percent.

As of today, Apple gave investors a 555 percent return in the past five years and has outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by 543 percent. Since 2007, investors paid an average 43 percent premium for Apple’s earnings compared with the S&P 500’s earnings.

IPad Upgrade

The new iPad, set to go on sale March 16, has been upgraded with a sharper screen and faster chip as Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seeks to widen the company’s lead in tablets over Inc. (AMZN), Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. (GOOG) Slashing the price of the older iPad by $100 also helps cut into competition, said Huberty, who raised her price target to $720 yesterday.

Huberty also cited the company’s expansion in emerging markets such as China and Brazil and a new TV product as reasons to lift her price target.

“Apple’s earnings power is potentially far greater than investors believe and our prior bull case model suggested,” Huberty said in a note to investors.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Frier in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at

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