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Apple shares at $509

THE BIG APPLE: Apple stock is on a crazy roll. On Tuesday, the company’s stock rose for the eighth consecutive day, gaining $6.86 per share, or 1.36%, to a fresh record of $509.46 a share, even as the broader market finished flat, the Wall Street Journal notes. The stock took just 34 days to go from below $400 to above $500. Since Thanksgiving, Apple has surged 40%, more than double the S&P 500's 17% advance. That performance has boosted the broader benchmarks, many of which give heavier weighting to bigger companies like Apple. Apple's share of the S&P 500, is 3.8%—more than Exxon Mobil's 3.3%, Microsoft's 1.9% and IBM’s 1.85%. Apple's unique combination of torrid growth and massive size means that its success or failure alone can change how earnings season is viewed. For all the companies in the S&P 500-stock index, earnings are on track to post a 6.6% year-on-year rise in the fourth quarter. Once Apple's earnings are factored out, the expected fourth-quarter gain shrivels to just 2.8%, according to UBS. “"By stripping away that one single company, it is like seeing light through a prism—you see things more clearly," say UBS’ Jonathan Golub. (2/15a)

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