Will the iPad 3 Launch in February?

Despite the financial markets falling after ECB President Mario Draghi failed to announce a new bond buying program, shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) climbed higher on positive news.

After AT&T (NYSE:T) claimed it sold six million smart phones in the first two months of the fourth quarter, analysts at R.W. Baird and Citi (NYSE:C) predict strong fourth quarter sales of the new iPhone 4S.  USB (NYSE:UBS) also raised its guidance for iPhone sales.  The bank now forecasts sales of ~30M iPhones in Fiscal Q1 — up from a prior estimate of 28M. Moreover, UBS is lifting Apple’s Fiscal Q1 profit guidance to $9.90 per share from $9.47. Lastly, UBS maintains its Buy rating and a price target of $510.

Currently, Apple shares are having trouble climbing back above $400.  Shares fell below $400 in mid-November, but found support on the 200-day MA, near $365.  Apple’s all-time high is $426.70.  On Thursday, Citi’s Richard Gardner provided hope that a new Apple product may ignite shares.

Mr. Gardner claims that according to “several sources” the next iPad will launch in February, and predicts the screen to have double the pixel resolution of the iPad 2, which would place it well ahead of Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook.  He also expects Apple to sell 12-13 million iPads in the fourth quarter.  While many believe Apple’s production line is ready for an upcoming iPad 3 release, February also carries some historical importance to the tech giant, as it is Steve Jobs’ birthday.

Apple’s Biggest Competitors to Watch Include: Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Lenovo Group Limited (LNVGY), Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE), Intl. Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), and Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK).