Apple joined the illustrious $700 club today in after-hours trading. The list of stocks that have traded at or above that price per share includes only a few select companies, such as Google, which passed that mark earlier in September. The share price was likely driven up first by strong response to its opening of iPhone 5 pre-orders last Friday, and then by the news today that in fact, the company had sold 2 million iPhones in its first 24 hours of pre-order availability, twice the number of iPhone 4S devices that sold in the same period.
Apple had already opened at an all-time high this morning, and its market cap is now sitting at around $656 billion. The stock continues to perform well even after CEO Tim Cook announced plans to initiatie a dividend program, which took effect in July 2012. Apple had not offered shareholders dividends since 1995 prior to this one, and some had criticized the move by Cook, suggesting it might lead to short sales of the stock, but clearly investors are pleased with Apple’s continued hardware and software sales and strategy.
Last year, Apple’s pre-order sales were dwarfed by launch-weekend performance when it actually hit stores, so we’ll see if another spike there (Apple’s almost guaranteed to blow away prior totals thanks to a larger pool of launch countries) can drive that stock price even higher.