Apple's Biggest Week Ever: iPad Rocks, CEO Impresses, Stock Soars

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This week was Apple's ( AAPL) biggest moment, perhaps ever.

The technology company launched its third-generation iPad to much fanfare, and initial sentiment is that the new tablet is a winner.

What made this week different is the fact that there's a lot riding on the Cupertino, Calif.-based company as an investment. Apple's stock has rocketed 34% so far this year, more than it did for all of 2011, and the iPad refresh was new CEO Tim Cook's first introduction to customers and investors after company co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs died half a year ago.

Apple underwent a host of other firsts. The company's shares recently breached $500 apiece, the market value topped half a trillion dollars and its cash on hand surpassed $100 billion, Facebook's value after it holds its initial public offering this spring.

Interestingly, Apple didn't give the new iPad a name (simply calling it "The new iPad"), but packed it with several new features. Included are Retina Display, the ability to run on Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks from Verizon ( VZ) and AT&T ( T), a quad-core processor, and a new iSight back-end camera.

Apple kept the pricing structure unchanged, as it has with previous versions. It will cost consumers $499 for the Wi-Fi 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB version, and $699 for 64GB option. The 4G models will cost an additional $130. Apple also lowered the price of the iPad 2, cutting the 16 GB Wi-Fi model to $399, and the Wi-Fi + 3G model to $529.

Apple received analysts' price-target increases following the iPad announcement, with FBN Securities Shebly Seyrafi raising the target to $730, the highest on Wall Street.

Analysts expect iPad sales to be exceptionally strong in 2012 and subsequent years, with Seyrafi raising his 2012 iPad estimate from 56.2 million to 61.2 million units. Other analysts, including Goldman Sach's Bill Shope, lifted their sales estimates.

The iPads are available for pre-order already, but are back-ordered at AT&T and Verizon, suggesting sales will be strong.

Apple shares closed the week higher, up 0.13% to $545.17.

In addition to the new iPad, Apple refreshed its Apple TV set-top box. Netflix ( NFLX) quickly capitalized on the new version, announcing it would let users who purchase the third generation of the Apple TV to sign up for its services directly through the set-top box.

There have been reports that Netflix is starting to work with cable companies to bring its streaming service to their cable offerings, which would put Netflix in direct competition with HBO, owned by Time Warner ( TWX), if it happens.

Netflix shares closed the week down, off 3.21% to $109.13.

Other companies are trying to cash in on the popularity of Apple's iPad. Cisco's ( CSCO) Robert Lloyd, Executive vice president of worldwide operations sat down with TheStreet discussing how the networking giant can cash in the booming popularity of tablets.

"It means that the network does play, and will play, a critical role in opening up these devices into corporate IT," Lloyd said during an interview at Cisco's headquarters. "Our customers are saying 'How am I going to exploit that tablet innovation and use that in the enterprise?'"

He added that the company is seeing huge growth in the company's Wi-Fi business, thanks in part to the huge "explosion in mobility."

Cisco shares closed the week down 0.4% to $19.80.

Even though the week focused on the iPad and to a lesser extent, the Apple TV, it wasn't all strawberries and cream for Apple.

The Department of Justice may sue Apple, along with several book publishers, for colluding raise prices on e-books, according to sources close to the situation. A lawsuit could be averted if the parties agree to settle out of court.

Aside from Apple, five book publishers are also included in the potential lawsuit: Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS ( CBS); Penguin Group, a division of Pearson ( PSO); French book publisher Hachette Book Group; Macmillan, a division of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers, a division of News Corp. ( NWSA).

Semiconductors came into focus on Thursday as Texas Instruments ( TXN) cut its first-quarter guidance. The company blamed weak demand for its wireless products.

The Dallas-based chip-maker now expects first-quarter earnings to be between 15 cents and 19 cents per share on a revenue range of $2.99 billion to $3.11 billion. It had previously seen earnings of 16 cents to 24 cents per share on a revenue range of $3.02 billion to $3.28 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Texas Instruments to report first-quarter results of 31 cents per share on revenue of $3.16 billion.

Shares of Texas Instruments closed the week lower, down 2.71% to $32.27.

Another semiconductor-related company, Altera ( ALTR) gave weaker-than-expected guidance for its first-quarter, citing weak demand for its military business, as well as its wireless business.

The company said it expects first-quarter revenue to be down 7% to 9% sequentially, which would put revenue at approximately $421 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting revenue of $427 million.

Shares of Altera finished the week down 0.11% to $38.00.

Pandora ( P) was the only major earnings report this week, and the Internet radio company reported a deeper-than-expected fourth quarter loss, as the company tries to find a way to monetize its mobile platform.

Pandora competes in the paid radio market along with Sirius XM ( SIRI) and Spotify, reported a loss of 3 cents per share on revenue of $81.3 million for the three months ended in January. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for a loss of 2 cents a share on revenue of $83.1 million in the quarter.

It also gave first-quarter guidance that was weaker-than-expected as well. Pandora sees first-quarter revenue of $72 million to $75 million for the first quarter and $410 million to $420 million for the fiscal year ending in January 2013. Analysts had been expecting first-quarter revenue of approximately $86 million.

Following the earnings miss, a few analysts were quick to lower price targets on Pandora, expressing concerns over the ability to generate income from its mobile platform. Pandora generates 70% of its usage from mobile, according to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney.

Pandora shares closed the week lower, down 15.38% to $11.50.

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

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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