Apple’s strong financial results in the latest quarter helped send its shares to their highest level in 18 months on Wednesday while adding $40 billion to the company’s market value.
Shares of Apple, the most highly valued public company, gained 6% on Wednesday to close at $128.79, the highest close since July 21, 2015. Apple’s stock market value, or market capitalization, ended the day at almost $676 billion, according to Google Finance.
The jump followed Apple’s report after the market closed on Tuesday of better-than-expected sales and profits for the last three months of 2016. Quarterly sales rose 3% from the same period a year earlier to a record $78.4 billion, beating the average analyst forecast of $77.3 billion. Quarterly profits per share of $3.36 were 8 cents better than last year and 14 cents higher than Wall Street’s expectations.
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CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple (aapl) sold the most iPhones ever in one quarter and the most Apple watches. Mac sales, led by revamped MacBook Pro laptops, were also strong, though sales of the company’s tablet, the iPad, continued to shrink. Cook even took time out to brag about how much he loves using Apple’s Siri digital assistant in combination with smart home automated devices.
The strong results, along with positive signs about the company’s upcoming series of iPhone upgrades coming later this year, prompted some analysts to predict even more stock gains.
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UBS analyst Steven Milunovich was among those who raised their price targets on Apple shares. After the stronger than expected growth in the past quarter, the total base of customers that could upgrade to the next iPhone is larger, the analyst said, providing him with more confidence that the new model would be a hit.
“Based on the growing installed base and some recovery in upgrade rates, the iPhone 8 should result in double-digit (percentage) unit growth,” he wrote on Wednesday.