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3 Reasons Apple Stock Is Hitting New Highs

By Rick Munarriz – Feb 2, 2020 at 7:30PM

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The country's most valuable stock briefly topped $1.4 trillion in market cap after posting well-received quarterly results. The party might not be over.

Shares of the country's most valuable publicly traded company continue to appreciate. Apple (AAPL -5.33%) saw its stock hit another all-time high last week, propelled by a blowout financial report

The consumer tech icon naturally slipped later in the week with the general market as investors got skittish, but it's just a matter of time before Apple hits fresh highs again. Let's go over three things that helped fuel Apple's market cap above $1.4 trillion (albeit briefly) for the first time last week.

An Apple class for iPads at an Apple Store classroom.

A class for iPad users at an Apple Store. Image source: Apple.

1. The iPhone is back

Apple has relied on the iPhone for the lion's share of its revenue and an even greater chunk of its earnings for years. When Apple's top line declined in fiscal 2019, with earnings taking an even bigger step back, that was the iPhone holding back growth elsewhere. 

Last week's first-quarter report of fiscal 2020 was everything that the prior year wasn't. Apple's iPhone sales rose 8%, almost keeping up with the overall 9% year-over-year ascent. With the smartphone gaining traction again and buzz starting to build for the next models that will take full advantage of the 5G revolution, the near-term future for the iPhone is a lot brighter than the recent past. 

2. New drivers are moving the needle

One of the more tantalizing aspects of the Apple story for bulls lately has been its push into services. From App Store revenue to iCloud storage subscriptions, the Apple ecosystem thrusts consumers into a future of nickel-and-dime transactions beyond the initial hardware purchase.

The services category is evolving and expanding for Apple. Over the past year alone, we've seen Apple push into its own credit card and the launch of its first premium video streaming service. Services revenue rose 17% in Apple's fiscal first quarter, and now accounts for 14% of the sales mix for the class act of Cupertino.

It's not just services changing the game for Apple. The biggest gain came from a 37% surge in sales for its segment that combines wearables, home, and accessories. Apple Watch, HomePod, and AirPods are some of the young guns in its arsenal taking the sting off a decline in both its Mac and iPad sales. 

3. Even bears are coming around

Seeing analyst bulls scramble to push their price targets higher after last week's blowout financial performance isn't a surprise. Apple's on the rise, and its biggest fans are going to juice up their price goals to stay ahead of the stock chart. The real surprise last week came from a couple of previously bearish analysts who changed their tune. 

Maxim analyst Nehal Chokshi upgraded the stock from sell to hold last week. Pierre Ferragu at New Street lifted his rating on Apple from reduce to neutral, arguing that the turnaround of its iPhone business kills his bearish thesis.

Bears often hold their ground even after a monster report, and if anything, they're more committed to valuation arguments when stocks move higher. At least two former Wall Street bears don't see things that way, and if there was ever any doubt before, we're seeing why Apple is such a popular tech stock for growth investors.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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