Apple stock price hits record high as investors await iPhone 5, iPad Mini

Breaks the $600 billion market cap bar for the first time

Apple's share price on Friday closed at an all-time high, climbing nearly $12 to just over $648 a share, a number that sets the value of the firm at more than $600 billion.

Most experts attributed Apple's recent surge to investors' anticipation of next month's rumored iPhone 5 launch and the possibility that the Cupertino, Calif. company will also introduce a small, less-expensive iPad.

[iPad Mini rumored to look like a big iPod Touch]

In a note to clients Thursday, Brian Marshall of ISI referenced the impending launch of the next iPhone when he said "180 Days of Enlightenment" were approaching. Marshall coined that phrase to describe the boost to Apple's business during the six months following a new iPhone introduction. (The converse in Marshall's model is dubbed "180 Days of Darkness," to portray the slackening sales as customers wait for the next model.)

"We are weeks away from the upcoming iPhone 5 launch and are about to enter what we refer to as the '180 Days of Enlightenment,'" Marshall wrote in his note.

Only weeks ago, investors and analysts worried over a dip in Apple's shares, triggered when the company revealed second quarter numbers that were lower than Wall Street had forecast. Since then, shares prices have increased more than $73, or nearly 13%. Prices have climbed 58% so far this year.

Friday's closing price of $648.11 was a record for Apple, beating the previous high of $633.68 set on April 5. It was also the first time that the company's market capitalization -- the value of all outstanding shares -- breached the $600 billion mark. Apple is the world's top company measured by market capitalization.

Investors are expecting record revenue from the launch of the iPhone 5 -- the name slapped on the next model in lieu of any firm title from Apple. Speculation on the launch date has centered on Sept. 12, with the new smartphone likely going on sale Sept. 21.

Apple may use the Sept. 12 date to also announced an "iPad Mini," a 7.85-in. tablet that will probably be priced between $249 and $299 to compete with the increased number of rivals at that size, including Google's Nexus 7.

Earlier this year, research firm IDC said that the addition of an iPad Mini to Apple's tablet line would increase sales by 23% during 2013.

If the Sept. 12 date is accurate -- and assuming Apple recycles either the timetable for last year's iPhone 4S or for this year's new iPad -- Apple would send invitations to reporters and analysts during the work week of Aug. 27-31, or the one following Labor Day, Sept. 3-7.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Apple stock price hits record high as investors await iPhone 5, iPad Mini" was originally published by Computerworld.

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