Market Cap: $595.17 billion
Apple makes it onto the list of top 'back to school' tech stocks thanks largely to the iPad's growing popularity. Despite missing analysts' top and bottom line estimates in its fiscal third-quarter results last month, the tech giant sold a massive 17 million iPads during the quarter, an 84% hike on the same period last year.
Specifically, the iPad is enjoying phenomenal success in schoolrooms and college dorms. During the third quarter, Apple sold just under a million iPads into the education sector, setting a new quarterly record. "The adoption rate of iPad in education is something I'd never seen from any technology product in history," noted Apple CEO Tim Cook, during the firm's earnings conference call.Apple, it should be noted, also enjoyed record Mac sales to U.S. education institutions during the quarter, but sold twice as many iPads into the space. Analysts predict that Apple's rumored plan to launch a smaller and cheaper version of its existing tablet will boost its education footprint. "We believe an 'iPad Mini' would further the company's efforts in this vertical," explained Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White, in a recent note. "The continuing demand for the tablet device highlights the disruptive potential of the iPad and we expect a lower priced 'iPad Mini' device to be released this fall, significantly expanding Apple's market opportunity." There's also Apple's eagerly-anticipated next-generation iPhone, which could make its debut in the coming weeks. With speculation mounting that Apple may launch the so-called iPhone 5 on Sept. 12, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company could get the new phone into the hands of college students shortly after the start of the semester. Research data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the University of Colorado and Nielsen, compiled by OnlineColleges.com, cites Apple's iOS as college students' favorite mobile operating system, way ahead of Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry OS Google's (GOOG) Android and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone. Clearly, there's massive pent-up demand for the new iPhone, as evidenced by the recent lull in iPhone sales as consumers await the device. Already touted as potentially the biggest product launch in Apple's history, the new iPhone could serve as one of the big catalysts driving the company's stock beyond Tuesday's opening price of $631.87. Topeka's White, for example, has a price target of $1,111 on Apple. While the new iPhone's impact may not be fully felt during Apple's fiscal fourth quarter, investors would be foolish to underestimate the smartphone's appeal for younger consumers, particularly the back-to-school crowd.
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