Apple Shares Crack $600 As Initial iPad Sales Pass 3M

Apple iPadApple-mania will fade at some point. But not yet. The company’s stock was up 2.7% today to close at $601.10 — its highest closing price ever, and up 81.8% over the last 12 months. Much of today’s bump can be attributed to the announcement this morning that the company will spend $45B over the next three years paying dividends and repurchasing its stock. But Wall Street may send Apple shares even higher tomorrow following the company’s announcement, after the closing bell, that it sold 3M of the new iPads on their first weekend on the shelves. That’s “the strongest iPad launch yet,” says SVP of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller. Indeed, it’s three times more than the iPad 2 sold in its opening weekend last year. The momentum could continue next weekend as the company introduces the revamped tablet computer to 24 additional countries including Austria, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. The only hitch for Apple? It’s making a smaller profit on the new iPad: It costs $364.35 to make the new model with 32 GB of memory and 4G connectivity that sells for $729, research firm iSuppli says. The model of the iPad 2 with the same amount of memory and 3G connectivity cost $335 to make.

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