Apple Stock Sets Up Basecamp at $600

A single share of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock now costs more than a brand new iPad. Only one day before the new iPad is scheduled to hit shelves, the company’s stock passed the $600 mark. Just a month after Apple’s shares made their first-ever move past the $500 mark, the stock opened at $600.01 on Thursday. The new iPads will have a starting price of $499.

In spite of recent bad press about labor abuses in its supply chain and hubbub this week about a lawsuit against the company alleging deceptive advertising, Apple’s stock is up an incredible 47 percent for the year and almost 10 percent for the month. In February, the company made history by becoming only the sixth company ever in the U.S. to reach more than $500 billion in market capitalization, pretty impressive considering Apple stock was trading at $10 about a decade ago. Apple is the only company on the list, which includes Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), that was able to maintain that market value over time.

Canaccord Genuity and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) both raised their price targets on the stock this week to above $700. Apple now represents around 18.5 percent of the Nasdaq 100 stock index. In April, it was lowered to 12.3 percent from 20.5 percent, but the stock is up again due to a price surge ahead of the iPad launch.

Henry Schwartz, president of options analytics firm Trade Alert said Apple accounted for one out of every five stock options trades in Wednesday’s options market, according to the report. Options trading volume reached a record 2.11 million contracts on Wednesday, said Trade Alert. According to Trade Alert data, a total of 1.29 million call options and 812,000 put options were traded in Apple on Wednesday, with the most active March calls at the $585, $580, $590 and $600 strikes.

The at-the-money 30-day option implied volatility on the stock was up 35 percent to 36 percent, which implies that traders are expecting large price swings for shares.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gina Smith at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com