Apple stock toys with $200 per share mark

Apple's stock traded north of $200 briefly on Wednesday, although it settled at $198.95 when the Nasdaq market closed at 4:00 PM. It's the first time Apple's stock has ever broken the $200 per share mark.

Apple's stock has well more than doubled since January. In the last 12 months, the stock has traded as low as $76.77 per share. but with exception of a few small, temporary downturns, Apple's stock has risen consistently -- up 134 percent for the year. As of Thursday, Apple's market capitalization, or market cap -- the aggregate value of a company, based on it stock price and number of shares, was $167.63 billion.

Apple stock peaked Wednesday at $200.96 per share, then fell back to $198.95 by day's end, rising $0.15, or 0.08 percent, for the day. It seems that the $200 per share mark was all some investors needed to see to take some profits. The rally on Apple was mirrored by other stocks on the tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange, whose composite index rose 10.91 for the day to close at 2,724.41 -- a 0.40 percent rise.

Apple's riding high on a string of successes, including the triumphant multi-national release of the iPhone, Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard," and other refreshes throughout its product line, including a video-capable iPod nano and the iPod touch, which features the iPhone's look and feel (but lacks its phone parts).

Apple's CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, has largely played a game of "underpromise and overdeliver" with financial analysts this year, taking a very conservative tack towards quarterly corporate guidance. Apple has easily topped Oppenheimer's goals throughout the year, and more importantly, has also exceeded the expectations of analysts.

Apple has set quarterly sales records for the Mac, moving 2.16 million Macintoshes in its fourth fiscal quarter, which closed at the end of September. The company also sold 10.2 million iPods and 1.12 million iPhones for the same period.

The news is especially good for long-term Apple investors, who last saw a 2-for-1 stock split in early 2005. At that time, Apple stock trading at about $45 per share. In the last two years and ten months, Apple stock has risen almost 350 percent.

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