Apple shares rose 4 percent to $211.26 on Nasdaq in early afternoon trading.
At least seven brokerages raised their price targets on Apple a day after the technology giant posted big gains in profit and revenue in the December quarter, helped by strong Mac sales and surging international growth.
We see a lot to like in Apple's results and would continue to be strong buyers ahead of this week's main event -- the tablet unveiling on Wednesday, Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner wrote in a research note.
All eyes in the technology world will be trained on San Francisco on Wednesday at an event where Apple is expected to unveil a tablet-style computer aimed at defining a brand new category of media devices.
Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote: We view the combination of new product launches, broader distribution and more attractive pricing as demand drivers over the next two years.
Our base case assumes the new tablet adds 4 million shipments, $3.2 billion revenue and 82 cents of earnings per share in calendar 2010 but we see potential upside to 6 million units and $1.25 EPS, Huberty said.
Apple remains our top pick in IT hardware, and we believe the story has staying power for 2010, JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said in a note.
Increasing contribution to growth from international sales, and the potential end to iPhone exclusivity in the United States should be incremental catalysts in 2010, Moskowitz said.
International sales made up nearly 60 percent of Apple's revenue in the December quarter, more than doubling in the Asia Pacific region and rising 40 percent in Europe.
Mac sales surged 33 percent to an unexpectedly strong 3.36 million units, while iPhone sales doubled from a year ago to 8.7 million. IPod sales fell 8 percent to 21 million units.
Apple also reported a hoard of cash and securities of nearly $40 billion.
Apple continues to gain share in large markets while generating tremendous amounts of cash, Broadpoint Amtech analyst Brian Marshall wrote, calling Apple a must-own technology bellwether.
The following is a list of price-target changes:
Brokerage Price Target ($) Rating
Barclays 265 260 Overweight
JP Morgan 240 230 Overweight
Oppenheimer 255 235 Outperform
Goldman Sachs 230 220 Neutral
Morgan Stanley 250 230 Overweight
Credit Suisse 275 250 Outperform
Broadpoint Amtech 264 260 Buy
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway in San Francisco and Mansi Dutta in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan and Richard Chang)