Apple (AAPL) shares are almost at their all time highest at around $98 as of today, while its highest ever value was in Sept 2012, at around $100. It was only a few months back, around January this year that it fell to around $70 (from $80) after yet another 'diasappointing' quarter, where the iPhone sales were a little lower than the analysts' estimates. That quarter was just the latest at that time in a series of quarters before that, where the stock would nosedive right after the the earnings call. However all that stopped in the next quarter's earnings call in April 2014, when more stock buybacks were announced and more importantly, a 7 to 1 split in the stock to get it lesser than $100 (per stock) was announced. But the sales figures themselves while were not a disappointment, were 'nothing great to boast about', as usual. The latest quarterly results were announced in the earnings call last week and though the iPad sales 'disappointed', apparently due to the strong iPhone sales (and though Mac sales were significantly better, I don't think the Wall street cares about Macs' as much as it does about the iPhones' sales), the Apple stock for the first time, did not take a nose dive after the earnings results. I mean this is the first time in like years that this has happened and I am not exaggerating here.
Also if you see the figure below, you can see that the stock from its all time high in September 2012, started falling steadily till July 2013 or so and then began its slow climb from there, the biggest of the jumps from there happened after the announcement of the 7 to 1 split (after the announcement in April 2014 and not after the actual split in June 2014). On top of this the financial analysts have been all over the stock upgrading it with all sorts of 'buy' rating in the last few months, specifically. See this one example article on the APPL stock coverage (Miniyanville), it says that Apple stock is showing strength and analysts are praising Tim Cook's stewarding capability... wait, what? Yeah after asking Tim Cook to step down multiple times ever since he took over Apple after Steve Job's passing, analysts are apparently praising Tim Cook's way of running Apple. The biggest question is why? You will be surprised with the answer in the next paragraph!
The analysts calling for Tim Cook's replacement for Apple's CEO position and predicting Apple's doom in late 2012 to 2013, had only a few reasons (actually more like a couple of reasons) to support their arguments; Apple is being overtake by Android (mainly by the super cheap, so called Android Smartphones) and that Apple cannot 'innovate' after the iPhone, under Tim Cook, as he is no Steve Jobs. Thats it, these were the major reasons for these analysts' perdition of Apple's ultimate demise and the reason for the stock not doing well. So in more than a year now, what has changed for them to start praising Tim Cook, taking a complete U-turn on their views about him and the company in less than a few months? Think about it... wait for it... NOTHING! Yes that is absolutely right, nothing has changed since then till now. Apple has not released any 'cheap' Android competitor, nor has it released any new products (though Tim Cook has promised a few 'new' product categories soon). The iPhone 5C that was thought off as the cheap iPhone was an apparent disappointment (as it was not cheap enough, at just $100 lesser than the iPhone 5S) till Apple's recent quarterly sales announcement, that categorically stated otherwise. Apple has not released any new product categories till July of 2014 that too in a year where Tim Cook, very much unlike Apple, announced that there were going to be new product categories announced by its company before the year ends. So again I ask what has changed? If at all the iPad seems to be stalling in its growth, thanks to its stellar hardware and software capabilities, that it doesn't seem to get obsolete to force people to upgrade it more frequently [Wassup with the iPad?].
The only reasons I can think of for this change in financial world's attitude towards Apple is that analysts have finally realized that they know nothing (absolute nada) about Apple and they cannot follow Apple, like they follow, for example oil companies or big conglomerates. Even though tech companies have been around for a while, for example Microsoft, they operated pretty much like Oil companies or big retailers, i.e., set up a market for yourself, drive out the competition by doing whatever you can, monopolize, make only very small incremental upgrades to your below par product and since there is no other choice for the consumers, they will choose you and you can grow your company at a healthy rate. This has been Microsoft's philosophy for years, more so under Steve Balmer. However at Apple, things never were motivated by money, at least not in the Apple that was reinvented by Steve Jobs. Money might be a great by product but never was/is an objective. Apple doesn't do what others have done historically to increase marketshare by low balling quality, doesn't license software to increase software profit margins, doesn't prevent its innovative new products to be launched, because they would canibalize its older products and most importantly does not care about launching new products just because some lame analyst who doesn't even know his own numbers, says so. Apple works like Apple and there is no reference to compare it with anything that already exists and hence the financial analysts ability to predict Apple's performance it similar to my ability to invent a Time Machine (heck, I might have better odds than them for all you know)! So all they have been doing for more than a decade now it adjust their target estimates after the stock has already gained the upward momentum and in now way is that prediction performance, its more like accepting the reality... All this in no way means that Apple will not commit mistakes or flounder in the future, but if and when it does, it will do it in its own unique way and analysts who could not predict Apple's success so far will not be able to predict its failure as well, then.