October 28, 2004 1:29 PM PDT

Apple shares barrel past $50 on iPod juice

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Apple Computer's stock has continued to soar along with sales of its iPod digital music player, topping $50 a share for the first time in four years.

The stock, which has doubled since January, has risen 25 percent just this month. The latest spike followed Apple's Oct. 13 announcement that it had sold 2 million iPods in the past quarter. Shares continued to climb following Tuesday's announcement of the iPod Photo, which is arriving just in time for the all-important holiday shopping season.

Apple's share gain is in sharp contrast to the performance of rivals such as Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, whose stocks have been more or less treading water for much of this year--even losing ground in HP's case.

Near the end of regular trading on Thursday, Apple shares were changing hands at $51.99, up another $1.69 after closing Wednesday at $50.30.

Analysts have continued to raise their price targets on the stock, but Apple's shares have outstripped even those bullish calls.

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