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Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray upped his price target for AAPL stock to $718 on Thursday, a day ahead of the new iPad launch in the U.S. and 9 other countries. Munster previously predicted that Apple will sell at least a million of the new iPad in the first 24 hours.
This year, he believes Apple will sell a total 60 million iPads, which would be a nearly 50 percent increase from the 40.5 million tablets Apple sold in 2011. By 2015 he expects Apple will sell 176 million iPads in a single year, while still controlling 60 percent of the market.
"With the launch of the third generation iPad, we believe Apple has positioned itself to continue to lead in tablet market share as competitors have struggled to release compelling products, even at reduced price points," Munster wrote.
He also believes that Apple will sell a sub-$300 iPad with a smaller display in calendar 2013, a theory supported by numerous reports indicating that Apple is exploring the use of 7.85-inch displays for a new iPad model.
Accordingly, he has raised his price target for AAPL stock to $718, up from $670. The adjustment came on a day when Apple hit record highs, briefly touching the $600 mark in morning trading before falling back.
Customers lined up outside Apple's Fifth Ave. store on Thursday. Photo credit: AppleInsider reader Ryan.
As for the iPhone, Munster's models call for Apple to sell 134 million units this year, up from the 93.1 million the company sold in 2011. By 2015, he expects Apple to sell a whopping 385 million iPhones in one year, taking 33 percent of the smartphone market.
The analyst expects Apple will launch a redesigned, 4G LTE-capable sixth-generation iPhone in the September quarter of this year, while also continuing to sell previous models at reduced prices. Munster's updated models now call for the iPhone to grow faster than the overall smartphone market.