What Wall Street is saying about Apple’s record quarter

Apple’s (s aapl) record quarter is prompting a lot of analysts and Wall Street watchers to up their estimates for the stock’s performance. A slew of investor notes released after Apple’s results were made public suggest few believe Apple’s fortunes have reached their apex.
Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu has one of the more conservative estimates of Apple’s performance but still increased his firm’s price target to $550 from $540, citing the possibility of an impending iPad launch as a reason to trust in the stock’s strength:

For its outlook, AAPL guided above consensus, which is rare for a company known for its vintage conservative guidance. For the March quarter, the company is looking for $32.5 billion in revenue and $8.50 in EPS vs. consensus at $32 billion and $8.03 in EPS. While AAPL does not pre-announce future products, we believe this guidance implies that there could be an iPad update in the quarter, which is consistent with what we have been seeing in our supply chain checks.

Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities was far less conservative, raising Apple’s stock price target to $666. He talks about how Apple “crushed” Ticonderoga’s previous projections with its results in a note released on Tuesday evening, and he argues that Apple has room to run:

[T]his is clearly a quarter to remember and speaks to the momentum at Apple that we believe has further room to run, ultimately driving the stock to our 12-month price target of $666.

Canaccord Genuity’s Michael Walkley also raised his target beyond the $600 mark, increasing it to $650 from $560. He anticipates that Apple’s results might prompt the company to change its policy on paying dividends (via Forbes):

We believe Apple is likely to announce a dividend during 2012, potentially next quarter when crossing $100B in cash and cash equivalents.  We view this as very bullish for investors, as we believe a new group of investors seeking dividends would invest in Apple and drive shares higher.

Deutsche Bank also raised its estimates, putting Apple’s new target price at $600. Analyst Chris Whitmore said in a note to investors (via StreetInsider) that his firm also expects additional gains from a new iPad release:

[W]e expect iPad 3 in C1Q12 followed by an iPhone 5 refresh in the Fall. In addition, we expect Macs with Ivy Bridge should support incremental share gains and Apple TV appears set to graduate from an ‘Apple hobby’ later this year.

The list is much longer, of course, and Apple’s stock performance in early trading on Wednesday reflects the general optimism: As of this writing, it was sitting at around $447 per share, up $26.60 from Tuesday’s close.