NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Apple Inc. climbed Friday after its chief competitor, Samsung Electronics Co., revealed a new top-of-the-line smartphone model.
THE SPARK: Late Thursday, Samsung revealed the Galaxy S 4 at an event in New York. It features a slightly larger screen in a slightly smaller body than predecessor S III and includes several new ways of controlling the phone without touching it. The global roll-out will start at the end of April. The four largest U.S. cell phone carriers have committed to selling it in, in addition to two smaller ones.
THE ANALYSIS: Most analysts see the S 4 as an incremental advance for Samsung, but not a game-changer that's likely to deal a big blow to Apple. The main weakness of the iPhone 5 is that it has a small screen relative to high-end Android phones; the S 4 is 56 percent larger.
"Aside from the large screen size, which we believe gives Samsung a large advantage over Apple, we believe many of the features can easily be replicated," wrote Peter Misek at Jefferies & Co.
Abhey Lamba of Mizuho Securities suggested that the launch of a competitive new device from Samsung could actually be good for Apple shareholders. Apple is already under pressure to use its enormous cash hoard for the benefit of shareholders, and a large stock buyback would help signal that it's confident in its own business, even as competition is increasing in the smartphone market.
Apple shares have fallen 39 percent since their all-time high of $705.07 in September, mainly because the company's growth rate has slowed. More recently, the shares have been pressured by reports of pullbacks in iPhone manufacturing due to slackening demand.
SHARE ACTION: Apple shares rose $7.99, or nearly 2 percent, to $440.49 in midday trading. The day's high of $442.50 was the highest point the stock reached in two weeks.