Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook quashed concerns recently about muted demand for the iPhone X, saying pre-orders for the 10th anniversary smartphone were "off the charts," but it might be the company's market capitalization that needs a bigger graph.
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Positive reviews for the new device and expectations that many users are on the verge of upgrading from older iPhones have sent Apple's stock to record highs, pushing it closer to becoming the first publicly listed company with a stock market value above $1 trillion.
"Apple is taking the iPhone franchise to a whole new level with the iPhone X, pushing the company deep into the ultra-luxury smartphone market," Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White wrote in a note to clients ahead of Apple's quarterly report on Thursday after the bell.
Ahead of the Nov. 3 release of the redesigned glass and stainless steel device, some analysts have questioned its price tag: At $999 for the base model, it is the most expensive iPhone to date.
But Cook last week said pre-orders of the iPhone X were "off the charts", while the company's website showed delivery times pushed out to five to six weeks for the phone.
At Wednesday's $166.89 stock price, down 1.3 percent from a record high, the Cupertino, California company's market capitalization stood at $862 billion.
Since the first iPhone in January 2007, Apple's stock has surged almost 1,300 percent, compared to the S&P 500's 83-percent increase. Including dividends, Apple's total return has been about 1,400 percent.
Apple's stock has risen about 26 percent per year on a compound basis since the start of 2007, a trajectory that - based on its current shares outstanding - could see it reach a market capitalization of $1 trillion in mid-2018.
The mean price target of 37 financial analysts covering Apple stands at $176.70, equivalent to a market value of $913 billion.
At least four analysts have target prices for Apple that put its market value above $1 trillion. Drexel Hamilton's White, the most bullish among Apple analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters, has a target price of $208, equivalent to a market capitalization of $1.074 trillion. (http://reut.rs/2z5egB9)
No analysts recommend selling Apple shares, but among the seven with "hold" ratings, one of the least enthusiastic is Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang, with a $140 price target.
Initial reviews of the iPhone X called it the best iPhone yet, although some reviewers pointed out potential glitches in FaceID, the company's new face recognition system.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)