Apple Puts $300 in the Rearview Mirror

The Verizon iPhone and the iPad invasion have given investors more reason to pile into Apple.
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) -- Gadget maker with the hottest hand,


(AAPL) - Get Report

, passed the $300 a share milepost early Wednesday.

Rising $2.21 to $300.75 in the premarket Wednesday puts Apple's market capitalization at $275 billion, second only to

Exxon Mobil's

(XOM) - Get Report

$315 billion value, as the largest U.S. companies by stock value.

Apple's gains have pushed the company past


(MSFT) - Get Report

, which is a distant second in the tech sector at $214 billion.

The stock strength -- a steady string of all-time highs -- has gained momentum in recent days on a bounty of positive developments. This week, the nation's largest retailer,


(WMT) - Get Report

said it will start selling the iPad. On Tuesday,


(INTC) - Get Report

praised Apple's successful reinvention of the tablet device, an odd gesture since Intel chips have been omitted from the iPad.

But probably the biggest fuel to the Apple fire is the looming arrival of the


(VZ) - Get Report

iPhone early next year. According to new Morgan Stanley estimates Wednesday, Apple is likely to sell an additional 8 million iPhones a year at Verizon, the No. 1 wireless service.

As far as valuation, Apple has yet to conquer some of its more richly appraised tech peers. Apple ranks third in tech for projected earnings growth, or so-called multiple, a measure of how much investors are willing to pay for future earnings.

Apple's forward price to earnings ratio, or value of the current stock to the year-ahead earnings target is 16.69. Meanwhile, search giant


(GOOG) - Get Report

has a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.29, and wireless chip shop


(QCOM) - Get Report

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

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.>To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: follow Scott on Twitter, go to>To send a tip, email: