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Apple's sales 'problem' sends stock to new high

June 17, 2010 | 11:37 am

So Apple Inc. faces such heavy demand for its new iPhone 4 that it’s forced to temporarily suspend sales.

But hey, you can always buy Apple shares instead. Everyone else is.

The company’s stock jumped to an all-time high Thursday after pulling back in recent weeks with the broader market.

Iphone The shares were up $4.86, or 1.8%, to $272.11 at about 11:35 a.m. PDT. The record closing high was $270.83 on April 23 -- which, coincidentally, was the day the Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached its spring high.

But the S&P still is about 8.5% below its April 23 close, while Apple has roared back.

“Buying the dip” would have been a winning strategy with the technology leader: The stock slumped 13% from its April peak to May 7, when it closed at $235.86. After rallying for a few sessions, the shares fell back again with the broader market later in the month, closing at $237.76 on May 20.

After another modest sell-off from June 3-9 the bulls have been in control again. The stock is up for six straight sessions.

Far from seeing the iPhone 4 sales suspension as a problem, Wall Street loves it. How many other companies can’t make their products fast enough to meet demand?

Piper Jaffray Cos. analyst Gene Munster on Wednesday repeated his “buy” rating and boosted his target price for the stock to $348, from $330.

Another brokerage, Janney Montgomery Scott, has come a little late to the party: The firm initiated coverage of Apple on Wednesday with a “buy” rating and a price target of $320.

Analysts also keep raising their 2010 earnings estimates for the company. The consensus estimate now is $13.54 a share, up from $11.60 in late February and $7.82 at the start of the year.

Earnings estimates for 2011 also continue to rise. The current analyst consensus is for $15.75 a share.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: The iPhone 4. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press