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TMO Reports - Apple Stock Hits Historic High; Up 4.5% to $88.41

by , 4:30 PM EST, February 15th, 2005

Shares of Apple Computer (AAPL) rose to an all-time high and a new 52-week top for the second session in a row Tuesday following speculation of a possible product partnership with Sony.

Apple closed up US$3.78, or 4.47%, to $88.41 on Tuesday. Volume was a heavy 41.2 million shares.

Much of Apple's stock rise Tuesday came after a speculative commentary from Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich, which boosted its price target for the computer-maker to $102 from $85 based on comments of a possible partnership on products with Sony.

Mr. Milunovich found it "intriguing" that Sony's president was on stage at MacWorld with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs. "Why did Steve Jobs say that Apple and Sony could possibly work together on computers and music?" Mr. Milunovich wondered in a research note. He speculated that possible partnerships could include an iTunes-like iMovies Store online, a high performance Apple workstation using the IBM/Sony/Toshiba Cell processor for video editing, and a network-centric TV with computer.

Mr. Milunovich wrote that an Apple/Sony partnership could put the Mac maker "at the heart of the HD and digital consumer revolution and provide grist for further earnings per share increase and stock appreciation."

He cautioned that his thoughts were "logical conjecture and are not based on knowledge of Apple's development plans," but that didn't stop investors from dreaming of the possibilities and buying Apple stock as a result.

The commentary came on the heels of an optimistic note Monday from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, which said demand for the iPod Shuffle and Mac mini remain strong.

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