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Friday, December 13, 2013, 07:31 am PT (10:31 am ET)

Evercore increases Apple price target to $700, citing momentum from new iPads & iPhones

As shares of Apple continue to trade higher, Evercore Partners on Friday upped its price target for AAPL stock to $700, citing what the firm called "rejuvenated momentum" seen from recent iPhone and iPad product refreshes.

Evercore


Analyst Rob Cihra believes the new iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display have not only served as a spark for the company, but will also help to stabilize its gross margins. He also sees a number of "untapped opportunities" for Apple regarding the iOS platform's marriage with hardware and services.

The revised price target, up from $630, was not prompted by any changes to estimated future sales by Apple. But Cihra does consider mobile thin-client computing to be one of the most important trends in technology today, and he sees Apple's high-end user demographic and varied product lineup making it what he called the "king of monetization."

"Like iTunes, Apple mostly looks to monetize by driving more hardware," he said, "but we also see its App Store and iOS ecosystem and increasingly leverageable sources of engagement, measures of user behavior and cross-device tools for advertising and payments in both on/offline transactions."

Specifically, Cihra sees Apple's revenue from mobile applications hitting $4 billion next year, representing a 27 percent year over year increase. That's still just 2 percent of the company's total earnings, but the App Store remains an important factor in driving the iOS ecosystem, he said.

Cihra also believes that iPad growth will reaccelerate in calendar 2014, growing 16 percent year over year on the strength of the redesigned iPad Air and new Retina display on the second-generation iPad mini. iPad sales for 2013 are projected to have increased around 11 percent.

Finally, the analyst also believes the "Air" branding on the latest 9.7-inch iPad sets the stage for Apple to introduced a larger iPad model in calendar 2014 dubbed the "iPad Pro." Like the company's MacBook lineup, he sees Apple offering "Air" and "Pro" models that would serve different markets and expand sales of the iPad lineup.