Apple Investors See iPad, iPhone Upside

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL) eagerly-anticipated iPad hits the stores in less than 48 hours, and the tech giant's investors are already eyeing tablet upside.

Apple's stock has risen steadily ahead of the iPad launch, hitting an all-time high of $237.48 on Tuesday, and shareholders are confident that there is still growth ahead.

"With the stock flying so high, there is a part of me that's itching to take gains," said Apple investor Daniel Hung, in an email to TheStreet. "But, products like the iPad, and a potential launch of the iPhone at Verizon ( VZ) have me optimistic that holding is the right course of action right now."
Apple iPad

The iPad, which makes its debut on Saturday, is one of the most hyped technology launches in recent years. Reports have already suggested that iPad preorders are going through the roof. One analyst has even forecast that 1 million or 2 million iPads could be sold by its debut.

Unlike the iPhone, the iPad lacks camera and voice capabilities, although it shares an OS with the smartphone. Hung, who writes the Curious Investor blog, believes that the iPad has a rosy future.

"I think the true source of success for the iPad will be determined by motivated entrepreneurs who adopt the iPhone OS as their playground," he explained. "It won't be long before we see some very creative uses for the device -- I'm sure of that."

Earlier this week The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPad launch was luring more application developers to Apple's App Store, at the expense of rivals such as Microsoft ( MSFT), Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Nokia ( NOK).

With more than 150,000 applications available for download, the App Store dwarfs other offerings in this space, such as Google's ( GOOG) Apps Marketplace, and is seen as a crucial weapon in Apple's armory.

Michael Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNET Advisors, says that the iPad, with its 9.7 inch screen, is particularly well suited to certain market sectors.
Who Owns Apple?

In addition to the consumer segment, health care and manufacturing have been cited as possible target areas for Apple, although Yoshikami thinks that the iPad will make its biggest splash in schools.

"It positions Apple well in the education market," he said, but warned investors not to get too carried away with the new product. "I don't expect it to be a home run, but it's a good additional business segment for Apple ."

Larger than a smartphone, but smaller than a laptop, Apple expects the tablet to take market share from netbook manufacturers. Unveiled in a blaze of publicity earlier this year, Apple's iPad starts at $499 for a Wi-Fi-only version of the product. For both Wi-Fi and 3G, iPad prices range from $629 to $829.

The stakes, however, are high for the new device, which could soon face rival offerings from Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Google.

"The market believes that the iPad will be a success," wrote Apple investor Scott Grannis, in an email to TheStreet. "That means that the risks to an investor today are that the iPad is something less than a great success."

Grannis, who writes the Calafia Beach Pundit blog, nonetheless sees a bright future for Apple and its iPad.

"It will contribute to rounding out Apple's product line," he explained, adding that the iPad will also bolster Apple's OS. "I see Apple continuing to gain market share from Microsoft in the area of laptops and desktops, and I believe they will be the dominant player in the smartphone and tablet market."

Like Hung and Grannis, YCMNET Advisors' Yoshikami is also excited about Apple's smartphone strategy, specifically talk of a CDMA iPhone at Verizon.

"It's conceivable, in our view, that if they come out with a CDMA phone, it will increase Apple's iPhone sales by 50 percent to 75 percent over what they are right now," he told TheStreet, in a phone conversation. "If you bring in Verizon, its reputation for a quality network is very high and I think Verizon would promote the iPhone like crazy."

Apple's stock closed down 92 cents, or 0.39%, at $234.93 on Wednesday.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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