updated 06:40 pm EST, Fri November 29, 2013
Stock's recent rise reflects expectations for record quarter
Apple's stock finally surpassed its previous 2013 high on Friday, beating the $549.03 mark to close at $556.07. The former high mark came on January 2, reflecting a year that saw the company doing brisk business in revenues, but penalized by Wall Street for lacking any category-redefining product or service, and being slow to update existing products. The perception -- not wholly accurate -- that Apple was losing influence and marketshare also played a role.
AAPL Black Friday session
Despite the advice of activist investors such as Carl Icahn, AAPL doesn't appear to have significantly benefitted from its initiation of a sizable quarterly divided and an aggressive stock-buyback program, even with dividend payout increases throughout 2013. Icahn and others have called for more aggressive moves, including a larger stock-buyback program that they believe will intensify investor interest in Apple, causing a rise in the share price. Instead, Apple's recent steady increases over the summer look to have been driven by two primary factors: anticipation of new and refreshed products, and the sales results of said products.
The stock tumbled in the early months of 2013 and again in June, giving first-time investors a pair of golden opportunities to get in and make some serious money -- savvy investors who bought AAPL at its low point of around $400 in the spring saw a 39 percent return on investment in just seven months, with the stock likely to continue generally rising on expected strong sales and revenues over the holiday season. Apple itself took advantage of the lows, retiring some $16 billion in stock in the third quarter of the year alone -- a move that would cost it an additional $4 billion were it to buy that same stock now.
NASDAQ, the exchange on which Apple and most tech companies are listed, also saw a record high on Friday, closing at a 13-year high of 4,059. The surprising rise on Friday was due primarily to technology stocks, bucking losses on the day for both the Dow exchange and the S&P 500. Apple's market cap once again sits above the half-trillion dollar mark, with its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio sitting at 14 and earnings per share (EPS) at nearly $40.