TOKYO ( TheStreet) -- Could Sony ( SNE) be an Apple ( AAPL) acquisition target? Shares of the electronics giant rose in the Japanese market on Tuesday following speculation that Sony could be attractive M&A bait.

Reuters reports that Sony's stock was up more than 3% at one point Tuesday in the aftermath of a recent Barrons report which touted Sony, Adobe ( ADBE) and Disney ( DIS) as good fits for Apple.

Apple Store China

Such is the intense interest in Apple at the moment, though, that even mere speculation can impact a related stock. An Apple bid for Sony would certainly be a bold move, particularly given the Japanese firm's support for Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system, and would also run counter to the tech giant's largely low-key M&A strategy.

Compared to other Silicon Valley heavyweights such as IBM ( IBM), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Microsoft ( MSFT), Apple has done relatively little M&A. Its most notable recent deals include buying Quattro Wireless and P.A. Semi, neither of which are considered household names.

Apple, which exited its recent fourth quarter with a massive $51 billion in cash and marketable securities, continues to be focus of intense M&A chatter, linked with increasingly high-profile names.

Other firms touted as Apple acquisition bait include Cisco ( CSCO), EMC ( EMC) and even Dell ( DELL). Storage specialist SanDisk ( SNDK) has also been mentioned as a possible target on the strength of its Flash memory technology, which is widely used within Apple's product line.

The recent surge in Apple M&A speculation can be linked back to comments made by Steve Jobs during the company's recent fourth-quarter conference call. Asked by an analyst to explain why Apple was keeping hold of its vast cash haul, Jobs hinted at future acquisitions.

"We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along and that we're in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position," he said. "We'd like to continue to keep our powder dry because we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future."

As ever, though, Apple is keeping its exact strategy under wraps, leaving the M&A rumor mill to continue turning.

In morning trading Tuesday, Apple shares were slightly down -- 0.05% to $308.69, mirroring the modest retreat in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq slip 0.68%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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