Ina Fried

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Apple Stock Soars as Wall Street Predicts What’s Next for Its iDarling

Apple shares soared on the first trading day of 2011, reaching a new all-time high and topping $300 billion in market capitalization.

Near the close of regular trading on Monday, Apple’s shares were trading at $329.43, up $6.87 or more than 2 percent, giving the company a market value of roughly $302 billion.

Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster issued his forecast of what’s coming for the new year, including popular predictions of a Verizon iPhone and new iPad, followed later in the year by an update to the iPhone as well as new Mac lines. As for the Verizon iPhone, it’s not a new prediction, with Munster having already guesstimated that Verizon will ship 9 million iPhones next year.

Munster also sees improved cloud services from Apple as likely, as well as the possibility that we will see iPads offered with a subsidy from carriers, presumably in exchange for customers agreeing to a long-term contract. Currently, iPad owners don’t get a discount (in fact the 3G version costs $130 more), but they also don’t agree to pay each month for the wireless service.

The “What will Apple do” question is likely to preoccupy more than just Wall Street. Expect many of the product introductions at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show to be examined through the lens of how they will compete with both current and expected products from Apple, which is skipping the show as usual.

Longer term, Munster said he still expects Apple may expand its television “hobby” and start making its own line of TVs.