By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 28, 2012

Since February 14, the stock has hit 27 new highs in 31 trading days

“We’re not going to go have a toga party or do something outlandish, and so people don’t have to worry [the cash] is going to burn a hole in our pocket.” — Tim Cook

Conventional wisdom had it that Apple’s (AAPL) share price would take off  once the company declared a dividend.

Turns out, all it took was a signal that a dividend was coming.

On Feb. 14, CEO Tim Cook gave the high sign at a Goldman Sachs Technology Conference, promising “the best decision for shareholders” and no toga parties. The stock took off and never looked back. When a dividend and stock buyback plan was announced on March 19, it just accelerated.

All told, Apple’s share price has gained nearly $110 in the 31 trading days since the toga party speech, and its market cap has grown by more than $104 billion — roughly one Amazon (AMZN) in value.

On Tuesday, Apple closed at another record high — $614.48 — its 27th in 31 trading days.

The stock is overbought, I’m told, and can still go down. It’s only Tuesday, and Apple often rises early in the week and falls by Friday’s close. Also, it often gets pulled back between earnings reports only to bungee back up when the numbers come out.

If that’s going to happen this quarter, time is running out. Apple’s fiscal Q2 ends on Saturday, and all the signs say it’s going to be a good one.

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