(Fred Dunsel ) Tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose above the $600 level last week, closing at $603 on Friday. This was also the company's best stock performance over the past six weeks. Nonetheless, while last week's performance represented a 5.2% gain, the stock is still away from the $644 peak achieved in early April. Nonetheless, after announcing a much better than expected second-quarter performance that was primarily boosted by strong iPhone sales, Apple shares soared by 9% last Wednesday. This was also Apple's biggest one-day gain since November 2008.
According to Apple, its net income for the second quarter reached $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per share on revenue of $39.2 billion, well above the analysts' previous estimates of $10.07 per share on revenue of $36.96 billion. It was assessed that strong demand from Chinese consumers has helped Apple sell a higher-than-predicted 35.1 million iPhones last quarter. On the other hand, Apple also provided a weaker-than-estimated outlook for the third quarter of earning $8.68 per share on revenue of $34 billion. (Apple's forecasts are generally deemed by analysts as too conservative.)
While Apple's second-quarter performance might have eased some concerns that the bellwether tech stock was becoming too large to grow (which led to a 12% drop in stock price over two weeks), there are still skeptics who wonder how the company can maintain its revenue growth, margins and earnings in the coming months. Nonetheless, analysts, for now, were impressed by Apple's latest performance. Societe Generale upgraded Apple shares from "hold" to "buy", with a $750 price target (up from $600). Canaccord Genuity also raised its price target to $775, while ISI Group raised the price target to $750, with a "buy" rating on the stock. Wedbush reaffirmed its "outperform" rating for Apple, and set a $800 price target, up from $750.
According to S&P Indices senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt, the scores of investors who own Apple stock may look to sell and lock in their gains soon. Silverblatt said, "The big question is when investors will take profit. But so far, that hasn't happened."