Apple Shares Hit All-Time High

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs

A day ahead of its earnings release, the maker of the iPad and purveyor of iTunes boasts a market capitalization that soars above Google and Microsoft.

Apple traded at an all-time high Monday of $374.65 before closing a nickel beneath that milestone as investors positioned themselves for what is expected to be impressive quarterly earnings.

Apple is scheduled to release financial details of its fiscal third quarter Tuesday. On Monday, Baird analyst William Power reiterated his “outperform” rating and $450 price target on the stock.

Shares of Apple were up $8.88 on Monday, or 2.4%, and traded another dollar higher in the after-hours session.

The stock’s close Monday gave it a market capitalization of $345.7 billion, higher than Microsoft ($224 billion), General Electric ($194 billion) and Google ($192 billion), though still shy of Exxon Mobil ($401 billion).

Apple’s value on Wall Street also exceeds the combined value of the seven biggest entertainment conglomerates -- News Corp., Sony, Comcast, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom and Walt Disney.

Part of the bullishness around Apple is focused on the iPad. Last week, analysts at Canaccord Genuity said they think 55.1 million of the tablets will be bought globally in 2012, up from their previous estimation of 53.8 million. The analysts have a $500 target on Apple shares.

“Given Apple’s leadership position, scale advantages and leading application ecosystem, we believe Apple will maintain its dominant share of the tablet market through at least calendar 2012,” the Canaccord Genuity analysts wrote in a recent research note.