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Apple Edges Toward $500B Market Cap (Correct)

(This story has been corrected to reflect that Apple has not surpassed HP in annual revenue and updated with additional market cap data)

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) - Apple (AAPL - Get Report) has surpassed $400 billion in market capitalization, as analysts predict the tech giant hitting the half trillion dollar mark.

Goldman Sachs recently boosted its share price target to $550 per share. Other analysts, such as Barclays Capital and Piper Jaffray have even higher price targets, $555 and $607, respectively. Using Goldman's $550 share price target, Apple's market capitalization would be just over $512 billion.

Apple's growth is clearly accelerating, having reached various market cap milestones over a short period of time.

When Steve Jobs returned to the company, it took nearly 10 years for the company to close a quarter over $100 billion in market cap, doing so in the June 2007 quarter, according to Bloomberg. Due to the recession, Apple did not reach $200 billion in market cap until second quarter 2010, 11 quarters later. It took Apple four quarters to finally stay over $300 billion in market cap, having first reached it in January 2011. It has taken three quarters for the firm to reach $400 billion. Apple may very well reach $500 billion in market cap later this year, if past trends hold.

The tech giant's stock hit another all-time high shortly after market open on Thursday, reaching $431.37, surpassing Wednesday's previous all-time high. Apple's market cap was at $400.2 billion on Thursday.
Apple surpassed $400 billion in market cap.

Apple, however, is not the most valuable company in the S&P 500 yet. That distinction still belongs to Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report), which is worth approximately $414 billion. The oil exploration giant is still worth more than the Cupertino, Calif.-based behemoth, but there was a time in 2011 when Apple surpassed Exxon in market capitalization.

The iPhone maker has become one of the world's most valuable brands. 2011 saw Apple's brand value rise 58% from 2010, more than any other company on a recent list from Interbrand. This is due to increased ownership of Apple products, such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac, as well as a 25.6% gain in the share price in 2011.

Year-to-date, Apple shares have risen 5.9%, slightly under-performing the NASDAQ, which has risen 6.3%.

Last year, Apple surpassed $100 billion in revenue for the first time in the company's history. In 2011, Apple surpassed $108 billion in revenue and earned $28.05 per share. During the prior year, Apple brought in revenue of $65.225 billion and earned $15.41.

Apple still has a long way to go to becoming the most valuable company in the world. That distinction belongs to PetroChina (PTR - Get Report) when taken into account the value of the shares traded in China, as well as United States ADRs (American Depository Receipts).

Apple has over 932 million shares outstanding.

Shares of Apple were rising in early Thursday trading, up 0.3% to $430.50.

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Check out our new tech blog, Tech Trends.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York
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