Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Apple's market capitalization crosses $300 bn mark

With sales of its iPhones, iPads and iPods continuing to soar, Apple's valuation is now over $300 billion, making it the only company besides oil giant Exxon to break that mark.

The company's shares were trading Tuesday at $330.72, giving the company a market value of over $303 billion, as investors were buoyed by reports that demand for its products over the holiday season was higher than expected.

In a report, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said that the iPad remained "largely unchallenged" and likely sold 6.5 million units in the fourth quarter.

Whitmore raised his forecast for 2011 to 28 million iPads sold, up from his previous estimate of 22 million. Whitmore also raised his iPhone sales projections for the holiday period by one million to 16 million, and forecast 2011 iPhone sales of 60 million iPhones, up from 55 million.

"Apple continues to benefit from the strongest product offering in its history and the strong double-barreled product cycle is driving massive global demand for iPads and iPhones," he wrote.

"Both categories are benefiting from additional carriers, international expansion, and limited competition."

With the company set to launch the iPhone on Verizon, the largest and most popular carrier in the US, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sees Apple's share price hitting $438 by year's end.

That price level could allow it to surpass Exxon Mobil's $375 billion valuation to become the world's most profitable company, though rising oil prices could boost Exxon Mobil's value even higher.

Apple share price topped $300 in October, which put the company's value at about $274 billion. In May 2010, Apple passed Microsoft to become the world's most valuable tech stock.