Stellar Apple results point to a good year ahead

Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:08am EST
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(Reuters) - Skyrocketing demand for Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad helped the world's most valuable company trounce Wall Street expectations after a rare miss last quarter, and analysts raised their price targets on the stock by up to $100.

Apple shares, which closed at $420.41 on Tuesday on the Nasdaq, jumped 8 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday.

Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones -- its flagship product -- and 15.43 million iPad tablets in the holiday quarter, doubling from a year earlier.

At least 14 brokerages raised their price targets on the company's stock, with at least two expecting it to touch $650 in the next 12 months.

Citigroup, which raised its price target on the stock by $100 to $600, expects "another stellar product cycle this year with an iPad refresh in March."

The growth momentum should be driven by demand in China and low channel inventories, Citigroup analysts said.

J.P. Morgan Securities, which sees iPad as a "budding growth engine" for Apple, said the strong results suggest there is more than just one major product cycle at the company.

The new product introductions, such as the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, will only add to the growth story, analysts said.

Of the 56 analysts covering the stock, more than 90 percent have a "strong buy" or a "buy" rating, with only two analysts rating it "sell" or "strong sell". According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, the mean price target on the stock is $516.02.   Continued...