Even without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple is showing that it can still reach new heights.
On Monday, while the rest of the market declined, shares in Apple hit a new all-time high in intraday trading, climbing to $413.23 before closing at $411.63 (also a record closing price).The new high was reached on the same day that a J.P. Morgan analyst said in a research note that it was expecting not one, but two new iPhones from the company this fall.
The analyst said new research now indicates that the company will launch one iPhone 5, a world-mode device with a new form factor, and an iPhone “4-plus,” which would include minor updates to the current iPhone 4 and could target China.
“The implications of this two-pronged launch are meaningful, likely leading to upside potential to iPhone quarterly shipment rates. A device targeting China could add to Apple’s super growth rates recently exhibited in the region,” said J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz in a note.
The note also said that Moskowitz doesn’t expect a new iPad until 2012, but “there’s no rush” as competitors have “stumbled so far.”
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said that while the new iPhone rumors likely had some impact on the stock price, a number of factors played into its rise to a new level.
“I wouldn’t say it’s anything specific,” he said. “I think it’s because of much bigger reasons Apple [is expected] to do well.”
Another tidbit boosting the stock recently has been the expectation that Sprint will be a new iPhone carrier, he said. Assuming 5 percent to 10 percent of Sprint’s 35 million users switch to Apple, that’s 2 to 3 million new users in the first quarter.
Chowdhry also said that the market could have been reacting to positive reports on Apple’s back-to-school Mac promotion (which gave students $100 for apps after buying a new Mac). Even though early August sales looked weak, Chowdhry said, Apple acted nimbly with aggressive marketing and recovered.
“It’s very critical from a pipeline perspective,” he said, adding that the thinking is “if I can get you when you’re young, I will keep you when you’re old.” College-age students are also valuable influencers, not just among their peers but older generations.
Other stock-moving rumors could include the expected iCloud launch this fall and reports that Apple is working on an HDTV.
But Chowdhry cautioned that while Apple shares have continued to climb despite Steve Jobs’ announcement that he would step back as CEO and join Apple’s board as chairman, the specter of an Apple without its founder and longtime CEO still looms.
“We should be cognizant of the fact that the products coming from Apple today are the brainchildren of Steve Jobs and probably the product line [and roadmap] for the next two to three years,” he said. “But what happens after that is still a question mark.”