Apple is widely expected to release a tablet PC in January that combines the best aspects of the iPod Touch/iPhone and the company's laptops. That anticipation has sent shares soaring to record highs.  (Source: Digital Living)
Apple's stock reaches a new high

While some companies have struggled to shake off their recession hangover, one company that certainly hasn't had that problem is Apple.  Following a brief lull in Mac sales, the company has posted strong iPhone and Mac sales as the year has progressed, along with better than expected sales of the veteran iPod brand.  The refreshed iMac even outsold any single PC model in October.

Now the rumor mill surrounding the company has been driven into a feverish pace.  If the torrents of leaked information are to be believed, the company is preparing to unveil a new tablet device that is a cross between the best parts of its laptops and the iPhone/iPod Touch. 

Apple has reportedly rented a space at an arts center in San Francisco in January.  Given the company's history of elaborate launch events for its star products like the iPhone and iPod, many are speculating that the rented space will be home to the big product announcement for the long-rumored tablet.  Given that Apple no longer sponsors the expensive MacWorld show, held each January, that conclusions seems a bit more logical.

A mix of the tablet rumors and pleased shareholders sent investors rushing "back to the well" as Brian Marshall, an analyst with Broadpoint AmTech, put it.  Having made sizable gains on Apple stock over the year, investors returned to the cash cow, sending shares soaring to a record high -- $213.70, currently, on a volume of 425,330 shares.

It's frosting on the cake for investors that a tablet has been widely predicted by Marshall and other investment analysts.  Those analysts point to contacts at hardware suppliers in Asia, which have reported sizable orders on large touch screens from Apple -- perfect for a tablet.

Apple's market capitalization currently sits at $182B USD, more than its rivals Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. combined.  While Apple sells less computers than the pair (it typically fills in third place on the monthly sales charts), its sales have been growing faster and it also has stronger profit margins and a lucrative revenue stream from mobile electronics.  Dell is currently worth $28B USD, while HP has an estimated market capitalization of $124B USD.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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