Apple shares close at record high

The FCC announced new rules for telemarketers on Feb. 15, 2012. Getty Images

Apple (AAPL) shares rode the company's blowout quarter to an all-time high Wednesday, climbing 6.2 percent to finish at $446.66.

The technology giant temporarily surpassed Exxon Mobil (XOM) earlier in the day as the most valuable U.S. company. Apple's stock price rose as high as $454.55 in intra-day trading, pushing its market capitalization to nearly $415 billion. That briefly took Apple past the oil company, although Exxon reclaimed the top spot by market close, with a total value of just over $418 billion. Apple first eclipsed Exxon, which had ranked as the biggest U.S. company since 2005, in August, according to wire reports.

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Apple yesterday announced a profit of $13.06 billion on revenue of $46.33 billion for the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year. The results far exceeded Wall Street estimates of $38.76 billion in revenue and $10.07 billion in earnings. As a yardstick of that explosive growth, Apple's net income for the quarter exceeded Google's (GOOG) total sales for the period.

Apple's stock price may continue to rise, some stock analysts think. In fact, the shares may be undervalued. Reports the Associated Press:

[A]nalysts who do the math find that, based on the earnings expected this year, the stock should be trading much higher. Before the earnings report, 45 Wall Street analysts who follow the company believed, on average, that Apple should be worth about $556 per share. After the report, the analysts rushed to raise their estimates, some as high as $650.

That means Apple shares trade at a discount of 25 percent to 50 percent compared to its projected earnings for the coming year.

Driving Apple's record quarter were much higher-than-expected sales of Apple's iPhones, iPads and other gear. Only the company's iPod music player fell short of analyst estimates.

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    Alain Sherter is an award-winning business journalist who has written for The Deal, MarketWatch and Thomson Financial Media.

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