By Scott Martin, USA TODAY
Apple shares closed at $701.91 Tuesday, up $2.13, or 0.3% for the day. It's the first close above $700 for the world's most valuable company, driven by investor optimism about record orders for the iPhone 5.
The computer and device maker said pre-orders for the iPhone 5 -- more than 2 million in the first 24 hours -- were more than double those for the iPhone 4S. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts sales of the iPhone 5 could reach as many as 10 million in the first week.
"IPhone 5 pre-orders have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S, and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," said a statement from Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
Last Wednesday, Apple took the wraps off its iPhone 5 and showed off more than 200 new features in its upcoming iOS 6 operating system. The company showed off new features to come in its Siri voice search as well as its maps technology that will displace Google Maps.
Despite advances from Samsung, the world's most valuable company faces what has become a ritual retail rush from the Apple faithful. People are already lining up outside Manhattan's Fifth Avenue Apple Store to buy an iPhone 5 when it goes on sale Friday. Those who pre-ordered the new phone may have a two-week wait for their online purchase to arrive as demand exceeds current supply.
Some industry analysts are adjusting higher their forecasts for iPhone 5 sales. "Given the record pre-orders, we believe Apple could ship 9 million to 10 million iPhone 5 models by Sept. 29, or the last day of fiscal 2012, vs. our initial 6 million estimate," says Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley. Canaccord has a $797 price target on the stock.
On Friday, the iPhone 5 will become available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. On Sept. 28, Apple will launch in 22 additional countries and the phone will be available in 100 countries by the end of the year.
Yesterday, Apple shares rose 1.2% to $699.78 in regular trading and touched $700.05 after the closing bell. Apple's stock is up 6% since the day before the company unveiled its latest products.