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Apple Nears $300—But Investors Still See Upside

Apple's approach to $300 brings it close to a $274 billion market cap, second only to Exxon Mobil's $315 billion value as the largest U.S. companies by stock value. Apple sits high atop the tech sector, with Microsoft now a distant second at $214 billion.

Apple
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Apple

But even as Apple continues to climb to all-time highs, some analysts see reason to point even higher. On Monday, for example, Canaccord analyst Mike Walkley raised his price target for Apple by $10, to $366.

Helping to drive the Apple gusto is the excitement around the popular iPad. One possible added bonus is Verizon . Long a holdout on Apple products, the No. 1 telco is expected to start selling a Verizon 3G iPad early next year.

Another element heating up the speculation around the iPad is the coming wave of accessory keyboards that effectively turn the tablet into a notebook.

As Best Buy pointed out earlier this month, iPads are already eroding the demand for netbooks; adding an attachable keypad may further extinguish the mini laptop segment.

Apple did dip slightly Monday, after Research In Motion unveiled its 7-inch touchscreen PlayBook tablet aimed directly at the iPad. RIM won't have the PlayBook ready to sell until early next year, but it adds to a list of tablet competitors that may even include Amazon .

Still, as bright as Apple's prospects may seem against other gadget makers, it doesn't have the richest valuation among its tech peers.

Apple ranks a mere third in tech for projected earnings growth, or the so-called multiple — a measure of how much investors are willing to pay for future earnings.

Apple's 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio, or value of the current stock to the year-ahead earnings target, is 16.55. Meanwhile, search giant Google has a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, and wireless chip shop Qualcomm is the most treasured of the bunch with a P/E of 17.5.

The upshot of all this is that Apple investors can still find reasons — although fewer and fewer of them — that Apple isn't necessarily overvalued at $300.

As one long-time Apple investor said regarding Apple's $300 stock price: "I don't know what to do. It's hard to sell Apple when it's the only stock I have that's going up."

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