After Apple's historic holiday quarter, Wall Street analysts (for the most part) are champing at the bit to raise predictions for AAPL, citing overwhelmingly strong iPhone and iPad sales last year and high expectations for new product releases this year.
According to a report by The Apple Blog, several analysts think Apple is still on the rise, giving its stock evaluation anywhere from a $550 to a $666 target for the coming year. Apple's guidance for the second quarter was surprisingly high given its typically conservative nature, but analyst Shaw Wu believes that could be due to the iPad 3 update, widely regarded (but still just rumored) to be released early this spring.
Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity believes that Apple, on the heels of a stock price approaching $650, will finally institute a dividend payout this year. Many believe Apple will continue to hold on to its cash though, likely looking to purchase companies to add to its portfolio.
Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore noted that Apple may look to bring Apple TV out of the hobby stage and into prime time production later this year. That, combined with a new iPad in the second quarter and a new iPhone in the fall should, according to Whitmore, propel Apple's stock into the $600 range.
At the close of business on Wednesday, AAPL sat at $446.66, up $26.25 (a +6.24 percent change).
Of course when making investments, Wall Street analyst predictions should be taken with caution. While their job is to analyze companies and predict financial results, many have biased agendas (as evidenced by the several who every quarter predict Apple to finally fail). If you are looking for an example of that, check out Rick Munarriz's "6 Reasons Apple Won't Rally in 2012" on The Motley Fool.
These days it may be entirely possible that any well-read consumer has as much information to make a prediction as any Wall Street analyst, especially about a thoroughly reported company like Apple. What do you foresee in Apple's financial future? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!