Apple's stock price closed at a six year high on Thursday, following rumours that it would launch a consumer laptop in the multihued iMac mold later this month.
The PC supplier's share price has not been as high as $54.50 since 1993, but it rose nearly $5 or nine per cent, after trading as low as $28 last year.
Optimism about the company's future is based on the rollout of a new notebook, codenamed P1, at the Macworld conference in New York, which starts on 21 July. Investors also believe that Apple will be solidly back in the black when it announces its third quarter financial results next Wednesday.
The First Call analysts' consensus expects third quarter earnings of $0.64 per share and fourth quarter earnings of $0.76.
And a number of financial analysts, who are very bullish about Apple's prospects, have raised their recommendations to a "buy" rating from "long term attractive" because they feel that future products and software upgrades such as Sonata in the autumn and Mac OS X early next year, will boost Apple's profits.
But Apple refused to comment on the launch of the P1, which some say will be called the iBook, even though industry watchers said it was important that it started shipping the new machines as soon as possible.
Richard Doherty, director of research at The Envisioneering Group, said: "Its intent is to launch at Macworld, but the question is how many systems can it deliver in time for back to school sales."
Designing a high performance laptop for under $2,000 has proved difficult for Apple, however, because it wants a common motherboard that can be used not only in the P1, but in other products such as palmtops. And rumours had circulated a while back that the project would be scrapped.
Further fuel to the fire was added when Mark Foster, head of Apple's notebook development efforts, left the company in a surprise move. Neither he nor Apple would say whether he resigned or was pushed.
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