Apple stock hits $413.23, its highest level ever

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Apple Inc. stock reached its highest level ever Monday, hitting $413.23 in intraday trading even as the broader market declined.

That price was 3.2 percent higher than Friday’s close and brought the company’s market capitalization to $383 billion, albeit briefly.

The stock slipped to close at $411.63 and was trading after hours at $411.58, still up about 2.8 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.9 percent.

Apple is again the most valuable company in America, putting Exxon Mobil, whose market cap Monday was about $358 billion, at No. 2.

The record-setting trade for 100 shares occurred at 3:39 p.m. Eastern time, according to FactSet.

Apple shares have risen steadily recently, despite company mastermind Steve Jobs’ resignation as CEO Aug. 24 amid an extended leave for medical reasons. The day after he announced he was stepping down, the stock closed at $373.72.

JPMorgan analyst Mark Moskowitz issued a research note Monday speculating that Apple would release two new iPhones this fall ? an iPhone 5 that is lighter and slimmer and would work around the world, and a slightly improved iPhone 4 model that could target the explosive Chinese market.

Moskowitz speculated that Apple would cut a new deal with a Chinese cellphone carrier that could give it access to more than 100 million more customers. Currently, Apple only has a relationship with carrier China Unicom, with 180 million subscribers, Moskowitz said.

China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier, has about 600 million subscribers, while China Telecom has about 100 million, he said.

He said investors should “start to prepare for more positive surprises” in the growth of iPhone shipments. He rates the shares “overweight” with a price target of $525.

Shares are now trading about 13.7 times the analyst’s expectation for calendar 2012 earnings of $30.04 per share.