Apple, $300: Investors Still Looking Up

With the highest valuation in tech, Apple still hasn't topped Google and Qualcomm on the multiples chart.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report approach to $300 brings it close to a $274 billion market cap, second only to Exxon Mobil's (XOM) - Get Report $315 billion value as the largest U.S. companies by stock value. Apple sits high atop the tech sector, with Microsoft now a distant second at $214 billion.

But even as Apple continues to climb to all-time highs, some analysts see reason to point even higher. On Monday, for example, Canaccord analyst Mike Walkley raised his price target for Apple by $10, to $366.

Helping to drive the Apple gusto is the excitement around the popular iPad. One possible added bonus is

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

. Long a holdout on Apple products, the No. 1 telco is expected to start selling a

Verizon 3G iPad

early next year.

Another element heating up the speculation around the iPad is the coming wave of accessory keyboards that effectively turn the tablet into a notebook. As

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

pointed out earlier this month,

iPads are already eroding the demand for netbooks

; adding an attachable keypad may further extinguish the mini laptop segment.

Apple did dip slightly Monday after

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

unveiled its 7-inch touchscreen

PlayBook tablet

aimed directly at the iPad. RIM won't have the PlayBook ready to sell until early next year, but it adds to a list of tablet competitors that may even include

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

.

Still, as bright as Apple's prospects may seem against other gadget makers, it doesn't have the richest valuation among its tech peers.

Apple ranks a mere third in tech for projected earnings growth, or the so-called multiple -- a measure of how much investors are willing to pay for future earnings. Apple's 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio, or value of the current stock to the year-ahead earnings target, is 16.55. Meanwhile, search giant

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

has a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, and wireless chip shop

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

is the most treasured of the bunch with a P/E of 17.5.

The upshot of all this is that Apple investors can still find reasons -- although fewer and fewer -- that Apple isn't necessarily overvalued at $300.

As one long-time Apple investor said regarding Apple's $300 stock price: "I don't know what to do. It's hard to sell Apple when it's the only stock I have that's going up."

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.>To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: scott.moritz@thestreet.com.To follow Scott on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/TheStreet_Tech.>To send a tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.