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Apple Stock Hits $500: Tech Giant’s “Best Days Are Still in the Future,” Former Retail Chief Says

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Apple shares topped $500 for the first time Monday morning, trading as high as $503.83 in yet another milestone in a long-running series by the company.

As impressive as the past decade has been for Apple, the company's "best days are still in the future," according to Ron Johnson, Apple's former retail chief and current CEO of J.C. Penney.

Johnson, who helped build Apple into a retail juggernaut, says the company is poised to keep growing and taking market share because of its intense commitment to "innovation and quality."

Apple is "incredible at creating products that people love," he says. "Nobody does hardware better; nobody does software better. Nobody does retail better. And they're just getting started in places like China."

While the passing of Steve Jobs leaves a void at the firm, Johnson lauds his former colleagues. Apple has a "huge reservoir of talent," he says, citing CEO Tim Cook and design chief Johnny Ives as notable examples. (See: The Future of Apple Without Steve Jobs)

Steve Jobs "built a team that is equally unmatched" and "I expect that team to really excel in the decade ahead," Johnson declares.

Supply Chain Concerns

If there's any knock on Apple these days, it's about concerns with its supply chain and working conditions at Foxconn and other suppliers. (See: The Darker Side of Apple: The Human Cost of Your iProducts)

Following a steady drumbeat of criticism, Apple on Monday announced it has asked the Fair Labor Association to "conduct special voluntary audits of Apple's final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China." (See: Apple's Sweatshop Problem: 16 Hour Days, ~70 Cents An Hour)

Johnson says "a lot of attention" was giving to such issues during his time at Apple. "Apple has great compassion for people who work at partner companies," he says. "It's just a really complex issue [and] hard to control. I'm confident Apple cares deeply about the issues and will address them."

Because of its huge market-cap and industry position, Apple can be a leader in these areas, according to corporate governance and labor experts.

But all importers must be "deeply concerned" about working conditions in the supply chain, Johnson says. "We've got to pay close attention as best we can to what goes on in every factory where we manufacture products."

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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