Apple of Investors' Eye: Stock Nears $500

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Hey, did you hear? Apple (AAPL) shares are trading for almost $500.

That's probably the only thing you heard this week if you're an investor. Apple has gone parabolic, rising higher each day to new records. Even though the S&P 500 slipped 0.4% this week, you'd never know it given the excitement over Apple.

The renewed interest in Apple comes at a time when investors are more willing to take on risk. Tech stocks like Apple and financial stocks such as Bank of America ( BAC) are among the big winners while defensive areas like health care, consumer staples, telecom and utilities have widely underperformed the broader market.

As stocks so far this year have posted the biggest gains in a quarter century, two legends of the investing world came out this week in support of buying equities: Warren Buffett and BlackRock ( BLK) CEO Larry Fink. The head of BlackRock suggested investors go all-in on stocks.

But, unfortunately for investors, the European debt crisis once again grabbed headlines Friday after Greece finally reached an agreement on austerity measures, only to have European leaders balk at handing over a second bailout package. Gone was the hopeful optimism that Greece would avoid a disorderly default, replaced by fear that the contagion will spread across the continent. As a result, stocks fell.

In anticipation of more troubles tied to the Greece situation, investors were warned of more debt problems. To counter that worry, investors were also given a list of European stocks that may rise despite the debt mess.

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After dividend stocks outperformed in 2011, it turns out that the worst dogs of last year are among the best performers this year. That presents a problem for many investors: Do you continue to stick with a defensive strategy for protection as the stock market marches higher or do you chase the rally?

Professional investors have sounded the alarm over market speculation, telling investors they would be wise to stick with strong U.S. large-cap stocks that pay a dividend. Others are touting the virtues of buying stocks that pay a monthly, instead of a quarterly, dividend.

Even so, some high-flier stocks still continued to rise as markets gave back recent gains. Outside of Apple, LinkedIn ( LNKD) shares rallied nearly 18% on Friday on earnings results even as the broader market fell nearly 1%.

Investors in other speculative names weren't as fortunate. True Religion ( TRLG), Nuance ( NUAN), Diamond Foods ( DMND) and TripAdvisor ( TRIP) all sold off sharply on assorted news.

Among the top performers this week were Akamai Technologies ( AKAM), Lorillard ( LO), Computer Sciences ( CSC) and Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF).

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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