Apple Inc Returns 44.5% to Stock Investors Year-to-Date

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) finished Friday’s trading day at $585 per share and managed to reach an all-time high mid-week of $600 per share. The company currently displays a $545 billion market capitalization, or $138 billion higher than Exxon Mobil.

On Monday, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) deals with five major Hollywood movie studios now allows customers to buy their films in a company device faced several licensing arrangement hurdles, reports the Wall Street Journal. Previous agreements with other companies have prevented Apple from making deals with Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal and News Corp.’s (NASDAQ:NWSA) Twentieth Century Fox. Meanwhile, CBS (NYSE:CBS) CEO Leslie Moonves said he was approached about a year ago by Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Steve Jobs to provide TV content for what was billed as a subscription content service, but Moonves declined over concerns the service that could disrupt CBS’ existing revenue streams, reported The Hollywood Reporter, quoting Moonves’ presentation at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium. Piper Jaffray expects Apple to sell more than 1M iPads on March 16, the day the new device hits stores. The firm said sales of over 1M on launch day would be a slight positive relative to consensus expectations for the March quarter. Piper notes that Apple has sold out of inventory set aside for pre-order sales, and keeps an Overweight rating on the stock with a $670 price target.

Tuesday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) held talks on a cross-licensing deal to settle smartphone patent infringement lawsuits, which could have benefited the companies that use Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android software, according to the European Union, reported Reuters. Jefferies raised its earnings estimates for Apple above consense and price target for shares to $699 following its trip in Asia. Jefferies is more positive on Apple’s prospects following the trip, and said it expects production of the iTV to begin in May/June. The firm raised its 2012 earnings estimate to $45.90 from $44.32 and keeps a Buy rating on the stock.

On Wednesday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reportedly been subpoenaed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as a part of a broader antitrust probe on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) over how it made the latter company’s search engine was given preference on Apple mobile devices, according to Bloomberg. Morgan Stanley added Apple to its Best Ideas list citing potential earnings from enterprise tablet adoption, emerging markets, LTE upgrade cycle, and lower ASPs. Shares are Overweight rated with a $720 price target. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is cutting the price of the iPad in China to CNY2,988 from CNY3,688, ChinaTechNews.com reports. Apple is set to launch the new iPad in the U.S. and other countries on Friday.

Thursday, Piper Jaffray raised its price target for Apple to reflect the company’s growing market share in smartphones and tablets. Piper estimates Apple will sell 385M iPhones and 176M iPads in 2015, driving $80 in EPS on $320B in revenue. Piper said Apple Television is not in its estimates, which could add 4% to each year’s revenue estimates. The firm said it remains a buyer of Apple shares with an Overweight rating. According to Samsung Electronics, a court in the Hague says that it can’t pursue injunctions against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) for infringing standards-essential patents if it appears willing to negotiate license agreements, reported the Wall Street Journal. Of 1,604 business IT buyers surveyed, 22% indicated they plan to buy tablets in Q2 and 84% of those said they would choose Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, reported AppleInsider, citing a report from ChangeWave Research.

Friday, following a scandal in which it emerged that popular social network Path was uploading entire address books to its external servers, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reportedly spoken extensively with the company and subsequently released a statement clarifying that all apps wishing to access contact data will need explicit user approval in the future, according to Bloomberg’s Businessweek. After conducting checks, Oppenheimer believes that Apple’s iPhone 4S is selling well, while the new iPad launch also looks strong. The firm still expects the company to beat consensus estimates for its March quarter, and Oppenheimer maintains an Outperform rating on the stock.

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