updated 09:30 pm EST, Fri February 24, 2012
Stock continues rising on iPad 3 speculation
The allegedly-imminent release of the iPad 3 and strong prospects for future products and refreshes throughout the year are keeping Apple's stock steadily rising, with the company hitting yet another all-time record high at the close of the week, moving above $520 for the first time to close at $522.41 and the end of business Friday, though the stock is down to just over $522 in after-hours trading.
The latest milestone puts AAPL even further ahead of ExxonMobile as the world's most valuable publicly-traded company, with a market cap of $487.08 billion compared to XOM's $413.37 billion worth. Apple's price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio remains low at 14.87 compared its main rival Google (20.49).
The stock has closed below $500 only one day in the past week, suggesting that it will continue to rise on expectations of the a new iPad in the near future. Recent rumors have placed an announcement in early March, with other signs pointing to worldwide roll-outs in mid-March, featuring an upgraded display, faster graphics and the possibility of other improvements not yet revealed. Reports have also indicated that Microsoft may be preparing to bring its Office suite to the iPad for the first time, though the company has issued a series of non-denial denials.
A new iPad model is expected to continue dominating the tablet field, despite the emergence of revamped rivals and quad-core processors in some Android models. Though little is known about the alleged A5X chip said to be being used in the new iPad, the current A5-based iPad continues to be near or at the top of speed tests even against some quad-core chips, leaving little doubt that Apple will be able to continue selling massive numbers of units, particularly as the textbook field undergoes a revolution ahead of next year's school season.