Today: Apple continues to hire fashion-minded executives ahead of expected watch offering, and shares continue to move toward record highs. Also: Box gets a new round of funding ahead of IPO.
The Lead: Apple hires watch executive, stock hits another 52-week high
Apple stock moved to its highest prices since 2012 again Monday, as the company continued on its path toward a wristwatch offering and all-time record prices on Wall Street.
The Cupertino company hired away the sales director of TAG Heuer, the Swiss watchmaker announced Friday, and the head of its parent company's watch brands confirmed the move to CNBC on Monday. An Apple smartwatch has been expected for more than a year, backed up by trademark applications from the company in several countries for the product name "iWatch," and the company has been especially focused on recruiting high-profile executives from fashion companies as it moves into wearable gear, including hiring Angela Ahrendts away from Burberry to lead its retail division.
Jean-Claude Biver, the head of watch brands at LVMH, told CNBC that he did not consider Apple a rival for talent, but admitted to Reuters that the tech behemoth could but a dent in his company's sales.
"The iWatch will have the same status symbol power as many other Apple products, especially at the beginning. I personally believe it has the potential to be a threat for the industry," he said.
The latest sign that Apple's highly anticipated entry into a new market sector is on the way helped juice the company's performance Monday on Wall Street, with shares gaining 2.1 percent to a 52-week closing high of $95.97, a common occurrence for the stock since a 7-for-1 stock split that brought per-share prices lower than $100.
Another common occurrence has been analysts raising their price targets on Apple stock, and that occurred again Monday, with Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves increasing his target from $93 to $100, while Cantor Fitzgerald's Brian White reiterated a $111 target on Apple shares; 45 price targets for Apple have an average of $96.75 and a median of $100, according to Thomson Reuters. Piper Jaffray and Jefferies analysts joined in the chorus cheering on Apple's rise, with Gene Munster noting that Apple's share of mobile Web traffic has stayed steady despite Android's rising share in the smartphone market, and Jefferies analyst Hyunwoo Doh predicting that the expected release of the iPhone 6 would add to Apple's share at the expense of Samsung.
"We remain confident in the current momentum of the iPhone business and the potential for Apple to gain significant incremental share in the iPhone 6 product cycle," Hargreaves wrote, though he noted that Apple's failure to debut an iWatch this year would hurt the current rating of "Outperform."
While Apple appears to be on a positive track, that doesn't mean CEO Tim Cook will sit on his hands. In yet another feature comparing the style of Apple's leader with his predecessor, co-founder Steve Jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cook is looking to shake up Apple's board of directors, which has four outside members who have served for more than a decade.
SV150 market report: Tesla declines after fiery Model S wreck in L.A.
Apple was one of the fortunate stocks Monday on Wall Street, as indexes declined and the technology sector was especially hard-hit in the first session after the long holiday weekend, with the Nasdaq suffering the farthest fall of the day.
Tesla Motors fell 2.9 percent to $229.66 after one of the Palo Alto company's Model S cars split in half in a crash that followed a high-speed chase through Los Angeles. Tesla says it wants to investigate the car to find the cause of the extensive damage, which resulted in lithium-ion batteries aflame in the streets. Tesla predicted that it would deliver 7,500 cars in the just-completed second quarter, and Barcalys analyst Brian Johnson said a late flurry of shipments to China helped the company reach that goal, writing, "a solid debut in China appears to have compensated for a softening in Europe." Fans of the company's electric cars will gather in Monterey this summer for a second California conference devoted to Tesla, with the new name TMC Connect, which refers to the online Tesla Motors Club fan forum.
Google dropped 0.4 percent to $590.76 as a report suggested that YouTube viewership is not growing as fast as Google hoped and revenues are not as large as previous reports suggested. Hewlett-Packard fell 0.4 percent to $33.87 as Gartner predicted that tablets would outsell personal computers in 2015, and Intel declined 0.4 percent to $31.03 after signing its biggest foundry partner yet, Panasonic. Facebook slipped 1.5 percent to $65.29 as Oculus VR announced its second acquisition in less than a month, and rival Twitter dropped 2.7 percent to $40.23 while reportedly continuing its executive shake-up. Silicon Valley's next round of Wall Street debuts had a busy day: Box raised another $150 million at a $2.4 billion valuation and amended its IPO paperwork ahead of a likely fall offering, while Brisbane biotech CareDX increased its IPO target to $57.5 million. GoPro has experienced wild swings in its early days on Wall Street, and Monday was no different, with the San Mateo action-camera company jumping 5.7 percent to $43.96 as options trading kicked off.
Up: GoPro, Apple, Applied Materials, AMD, Juniper, Cisco
Down: Pandora, SolarCity, Yelp, Splunk, SunPower, Tesla, Twitter, LinkedIn, Netflix, Salesforce, EA, Workday, Yahoo, NetApp, Facebook, VMware, Zynga, Intuit, Adobe
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Down 3.74, or 0.24 percent, to 1,532.83
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 34.4, or 0.77 percent, to 4,451.53
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 44.05, or 0.26 percent, to 17,024.21
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 7.79, or 0.39 percent, to 1,977.65