Apple shares rise, then rise some more

Doubters vanquished, Apple shares watch $600 fade in the rearview mirror

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Apple are soaring above $600 again after the tech giant silenced critics who believed that sales of the iPhone had begun to fade.

Apple said Tuesday that it sold 35 million iPhones in the January-to-March quarter, almost twice as many as it sold a year ago. It nearly doubled its quarterly profits.

Shares jumped more than 10 percent before the market opened Wednesday to $617.30.

Wedbush raised its 12-month price target by $50 to $800.

"While the next two quarters may be choppy, with a Mac refresh and likely introduction of an integrated Apple TV product, we recommend investors be positioned ahead of what will likely be a monster iPhone 5 upgrade (in) late 2012," said analyst Scott Sutherland.

Skeptics believed that iPhone sales would trail off ahead of the anticipated release of the iPhone 5 later this year.

Those convictions were hardened before Apple Inc. reported earns late Tuesday, when AT&T Inc. said it had sold fewer iPhones than Wall Street had expected.

AT&T said it activated 4.3 million iPhones in the first quarter. That was down from 7.6 million in the fourth quarter, when AT&T began selling the iPhone 4S.

Analysts with Robert W. Baird & Co. on Wednesday released a research report on Apple with the headline, "What iPhone Concerns?" Analyst William Power raised his target price from $700 to $740.

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