Apple sweet as it hits $600bn market value

THE STELLAR performance of Apple shares reached a new milestone yesterday as the firm’s market value hit $600bn (£378bn) for the first time in its history.

The stock achieved a new record high of $644 in early trading, re-inforcing the technology giant’s position as America’s most valuable company.

Microsoft is the only other firm to have passed the $600bn landmark, at the height of the first dotcom boom in 1999, although the Windows creator has since been left in the shade.

Yesterday Apple fell later to trade down 1.2 per cent at $628.44 at the close but the iPhone maker has begun 2012 in scintillating style.

In the first three months of the year its shares climbed nearly 60 per cent from an already high $409.50.

Last week analysts at Topeka Capital Markets upgraded Apple’s price target to a $1,001 and described the brand as being able to “touch the souls of consumers of all backgrounds”.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has disproved analysts who doubted he could take the company forward following the death of founder Steve Jobs last year. Last week Cook unveiled a quarterly dividend after a 16-year drought and revealed its next-generation iPad, featuring a new high definition screen, a faster processor and an improved camera.

Apple’s latest landmark has fed predictions of another bubble in technology stocks. It came 24 hours after social network Facebook snapped up Instagram, a two-year-old photo-sharing application that employs just 13 staff, for $1bn.