Shares of Apple Inc. hit the $200 mark for the first time Wednesday, as investor confidence in the company continued rising near the end of what has been a strong year for the iPod and computer maker. In afternoon trading, shares rose $1.17 to $199.97. They earlier peaked at $200.
Apple shares have traded between $76.77 and $199.33 in the past year, rising steadily since January as investors anticipated and then cheered the release of the company's hybrid cell phone, multimedia player and wireless Internet device, the iPhone. The product went on sale at the end of June.
Apple released a refreshed line of iPods during the year, updating its flash-based Nano model to one that can play videos, and introducing a device called the iPod Touch which is much like an iPhone without cellular calling capabilities. The company also refreshed its notebook computers during the year. In a phone interview Wednesday, Caris & Co. analyst Shebly Seyrafi said he wasn't surprised that Apple hit the $200 mark.
"Apple has a lot of momentum right now," he said, noting the company is riding several new product cycles. Seyrafi, who rates the stock "Buy" with a $225 price target, said sales of the iPod Touch and video-enabled Nanos are helping Apple's margins. Apple's component costs are benefiting from declines in NAND flash memory prices, he added. "Looks like their business is strong even though retail sales growth in general appears to be weaker than in prior years," Seyrafi said.