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Will Apple TV, iPad 3 Mean a Top 2012 Stock?

New expected products from Apple — including a high-resolution iPad 3, a faster iPhone 5 and Apple TV — makes the stock one analyst’s top pick for 2012.

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, said Tuesday on “Fast Money” that word from component suppliers suggests a new iPad might be introduced in March or April. Other estimates have put the launch earlier, maybe coinciding with late cofounder Steve Jobs’s birthday on Feb. 24.

Munster said the timing didn’t matter much.

“There’s a new iPad coming, and people are going to line up and buy it,” he said.

Munster rated the stock “overweight,” with a price target of $607 per share.

Apple shares were up $3.20 to close at $406.53.

As for the highly anticipated Apple TV, Munster said a late 2012 launch was likely.

“Steve Jobs’s hands are all over it,” he said, which was a good thing because it will be watched closely as the first major product launch following the Oct. 5 death of the company’s visionary leader.

“The scrutiny on this product is going to be over the top,” he said.

Munster said Apple might begin paying a dividend on its shares.

“We’ve been saying there’s going to be a dividend for the last three years because it’s an obnoxious amount of money that they have,” he said.

Apple’s balance sheet shows about $80 billion in cash, which could grow to about $120 billion in the next year.

“We’re way past the point of sanity in what to do with that money,” he said. “Our best guess is they’re going to do a one-time dividend, but that’s anybody’s guess.”

A stock split, he said, was unlikely.

“Fast Money” pro Jon Najarian said he thought a dividend was unavoidable once Apple’s cash holdings topped $100 billion, probably toward the middle or end of the second quarter of 2012.

Apple last paid dividends on its common stock in 1995.

Trader Steve Cortes said he was flat on the stock.

“I still am skeptical that it can move the needle as the biggest or second-biggest company on Earth. I just rather be flatter right now,” he said. “You would’ve been much better off being index long than being Apple long in recent months.”

Trader Stephen Weiss agreed, noting increased competition in the TV space.

“No, don’t buy it,” he said. “Apple, when they go into TV, they’re not creating a new product as they did with iPod, iPhone and iPad.”

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Trader disclosure: On Dec. 27, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders: Weiss owns EUO; Weiss owns AAPL; Weiss owns KO; Cortes is long K; Cortes is short EUR; Cortes is short XRT; Cortes is short CSX; Cortes is short UNP; Cortes is short IYT; Najarian has long call spreads in APPLE (AAPL); Najarian has long call spreads in AK STEEL (AKS); Najarian has long call spreads in US STEEL (X); Najarian has long call spreads in PNC FINANCIAL (PNC); Najarian has long call spreads in MICROSOFT (MSFT); Najarian has long call spreads in RIMM; Najarian has long call spreads in CNI; Najarian has long call spreads in CP; Najarian has long call spreads in NSC; Najarian is long CIGX; Najarian is long CBOE; Najarian is long CM; Dicker is long oil

For Doug Kass
Kass is long GS; Kass is long MSFT; Kass is long HD; Kass is long LOW; Kass is long F; Kass is long GM; Kass is long TROW; Kass is long BEN; Kass is long LM; Kass is long LNC; Kass is long ETFC; Kass is long IFF; Kass is long K; Kass is long STI; Kass is long XOM; Kass is long SLB ; Kass is long SHLD puts; Kass is short SPY shares

For Dennis Gartman
In my own account I am long of the S&P futures; long of the Canadian dollar; long of the Aussie dollar and long of Apple; I am short AMZN; short of the EUR and short of the Japanese Yen.

For Patty Edwards
Trutina Financial is long APPLE (AAPL)

Trutina Financial is long TGT

Trutina Financial is long SPDR GOLD TRUST (GLD)

Trutina Financial is long MICROSOFT (MSFT)

Trutina Financial is long UTILITIES SPDR (XLU)

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For Gene Munster
The following companies have been investment banking clients of Piper Jaffray during the past 12 months: ACOM, DANG, DRIV, MOBI, YNDX, YOKU

Other material conflicts of interest for Gene Munster or Piper Jaffray regarding companies in my universe for which I am aware include: DANG, MOBI, YNDX, YOKU: underwriting

Piper Jaffray received non-investment banking securities-related compensation from the following companies during the past 12 months: ACOM, DRIV

Piper Jaffray makes a market in the securities of the following companies, and will buy and sell the securities of these companies on a principal basis: AAPL, ACOM, AMZN, BIDU, DANG, DRIV, EBAY, GOOG, IACI, LOGM, MCHX, MELI, MOBI, PRTS, RLOC, SINA, SOHU, VCLK, WWWW, YHOO, YNDX, YOKU

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