Apple shares jump, hover shy of $500 mark

Apple shares were big on Wall Street today, almost brushing $500. The surge followed word that the company may unveil the iPad 3 next month.

Apple set new records on Wall Street today, reaching an all-time high in intraday trading and closing at a record high.

Apple's stock closed at $493.17, up $16.49 or a gain of 3.46 percent from its opening price, according to Google Finance. In the early afternoon it ticked off a new intraday high at $496.75.

With the gains, Apple's market capitalization, or the value of shares times the number of shares outstanding, topped off at $459.82 billion, putting it $58 billion ahead of Exxon Mobil. The two companies traded spots to be the company with the largest market cap during the later part of last year, with Apple taking a strong lead roughly two weeks ago.


Apple's last 3 months of trading on the NASDAQ.
Apple's last 3 months of trading on the NASDAQ. CNET

Today's jump comes alongside expectations of Apple announcing a new version of its iPad next month. A report from All Things Digital this morning that was posted shortly before the market opened, claimed that Apple would be holding that event the first week of March, as well as adding details about what features it would include.

Apple's stock began its latest surge immediately following the company's first quarter earnings, which were announced January 24. The company posted record revenues and profits, led by all-time sales records for its iPhone, iPad and Mac products. Apple also forecasted earnings for its current quarter that came in ahead of what analysts were expecting. Immediately after the news, shares shot up nearly 8 percent, going on to close the next day up another 6.24 percent.

Long before that, the recent surge has been part of a larger recovery of the company's shares since the death of co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs in October. As Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt noted yesterday, the company's share price has gone up about $100 since then; today, they're up a total of $120.67.

Apple's soaring valuation will likely get its share of attention at the company's annual shareholder meeting later this month. In a note to investors posted by Fortune earlier this week, UBS said that Apple's management has been "soliciting opinions of large shareholders" about paying a dividend, something that Apple does not currently do, but is frequently asked about.

Beyond today's gains, onlookers are eyeing Apple's stock to see if the company's market cap can hit the half trillion dollar mark. An updated share price target from Goldman Sachs last month put Apple's shares at $550 after the firm's re-estimation of the company's iPhone sales, a price that would put it about $12 billion past that milestone.

 

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