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Apple peaks on iMac momentum

Spurred by strong response to its trendy new iMac, the company's stock hits another 52-week high, forcing analysts to keep pace.

Spurred by strong response to its trendy new iMac during the weekend, shares of Apple Computer today hit a 52-week high for the second day in a row, forcing analysts to keep pace with their target prices for the high-flying stock.

The company's shares closed at 41.9375 yesterday, up 1.4375 from Friday's close, marking the latest in a string of gains for the computer maker. In afternoon trading today, the computer maker already had surpassed yesterday's new high, gaining 1.0625 to 43. Apple consistently has hit new highs since May, when it closed at 29.88 a share.

The stock is expected to trade in the $50-per-share range within the next 12 months, according to a tally by First Call, which tracks analysts' estimates and recommendations. It recently began collecting pricing targets as well.

The latest 12-month price target for Apple was submitted during the past 30 days, a First Call spokesman said.

Apple's gains See special report:
Apple's gambit are attributed almost wholly to positive reception of the iMac, which began selling to consumers Saturday. The iMac marks Apple's reentry into the consumer PC market.

The company's share price has risen 40.3 percent since it broke past its May 52-week high. Last spring, Apple's stock surged into new territory after financial software maker Intuit said it would recommit to developing a new Macintosh version of its popular financial planning software, Quicken. Intuit earlier had said it was halting new development of the software for the Mac platform.

Up until then, Apple had not surpassed its 52-week high since August of last year, when the stock closed at 29.19 on news that Microsoft would invest $150 million in the company.

Lou Mazzucchelli, an analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison, said he raised his 12-month price target early last week to $50 a share from $40.

"I had 40 but they looked like they were going to blow through my target, which they have," he added. "I've been steadily increasing my target since recommending the stock last November."

Mazzucchelli noted that his 40 price range had held steady for several months prior to his raising the target, based on the company's price-to-earnings ratio and its stock price to sales multiple.