The world’s largest company by market capitalization got a little bit bigger.
Apple Inc., which began flirting with a record valuation of $700 billion during midday trading in November, ended Tuesday at $710.7 billion, marking the first time a U.S. company has reached that milestone.
The stock continued its ascent Wednesday, climbing 1 percent to $123.27 in early trading.
Analysts have a 12-month average target price of $132.56, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The highest target was $165, issued by First Shanghai Securities Ltd. on Feb. 3. Were Apple to reach that mark, the company’s market value would exceed $960 billion.
At Tuesday’s close, the iPhone maker was more than twice as valuable as longtime rival Microsoft Corp. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s next-biggest company, has a market capitalization of $385.4 billion.
Optimism about Apple has been growing since Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook revealed larger-screened, more expensive iPhones in September, which helped fuel a record profit during the last three months of 2014. China, where revenue rose 70 percent, is helping to fuel the jump in revenue.
“Given Apple’s powerful iPhone cycle, a big 4G ramp in China and the upcoming launch of Apple Watch in April, we believe there is still plenty to look forward to at Apple during this transformational cycle,” Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a note to investors.
Apple is also preparing to ship its first new product line to debut under Cook’s leadership -- the Apple Watch, which has further stoked interest in the Cupertino, California-based company.