Apple shares surged in mid-day trading on Monday as research firms like Needham and Evercore raised price targets to well above $300 per share, a figure that eclipses the stock's all-time high set last week.
Apple's ecosystem is an attractive proposition for investors, Needham analysts claim as the firm upgraded the iPhone maker's stock from a "buy" to a "strong buy" rating, advising it anticipates good results for Apple's Services, Apple Watch, AirPods, and other areas in the future.
Though revenues from Apple Stores have actually been shrinking in recent quarters, the company's brick-and-mortar operations have continued to play a pivotal role in courting Windows switchers and driving sales of Mac hardware to new heights.
Sales growth for Apple's Mac platform has outpaced the PC market for the 31st time in the past 32 quarters, keeping the trend alive. But surprisingly, Apple's premium-priced computers were actually driven by growth in emerging markets last quarter, new data shows.
Investment firm Needham on Tuesday broke its typical semi-annual schedule and updated its price target for Apple stock to $97, citing stronger than expected iPhone sales and also the surprise announcement of a new programming language called Swift.
Though the iPhone 4S is now more than two and a half years old, it continues to be a strong seller for Apple, with one new estimate suggesting it accounted for 25 percent of iPhones sold by the company last quarter, drawing in nearly 10 million new users to the ecosystem.
Sales throughout Apple's vaunted retail empire have begun to decline as the company's distribution network widens and the product line matures, according to a new report, though the outlets remain massively profitable and serve as a "magnet" for new Mac buyers.
Mac sales have continued to grow in the face of a recession and declining overall PC market, but Apple's iPhone could not escape shifting trends in the smartphone space, analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham said on Tuesday.
The Mac's long history of success in the education market hasn't been slowed by the introduction of Apple's more affordable iPad, as Mac sales to schools and students have instead grown since the iPad first launched in 2010.
While some pundits speculate that Mac lineup could be on the way out in favor of the iPad, Apple's traditional notebooks and desktops outpaced the overall PC market by nearly 25 percent last quarter, representing the largest margin separating the two in five years.
As PC sales continue to decline at the hands of tablets like Apple's iPad, the Mac platform is quietly growing its install base while maintaining an average selling price well above the rest of the market.
It would be "impossible" for Apple to successfully build a cheap iPhone without doing lasting damage to the company's highly profitable and successful smartphone brand, analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company believes.
Apple's share of the mobile phone market is growing, but it still remains below 10 percent, even as Apple and its development community rake in profits from an actively engaged user base. That led analyst Charlie Wolf on Thursday to raise the question: Does market share matter?
The Mac could become a victim of Apple's own success, according to one analyst, who points to the company's superior design aesthetic, along with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, as reasons for stagnation in Mac sales growth.
A closer look at market shares in the highly competitive smartphone industry shows sales trends can be reversed in an instant, and companies that once dominated could quickly find themselves on the verge of collapse.
Though Apple expects its margins to shrink in the holiday quarter as the company goes through an unprecedentedly large product transition, Wall Street watchers remain confident in recommending investors buy AAPL stock.