Win lifts Apple shares to all-time high

Shares of Apple have climbed to an all-time high after the iPhone-maker won a bitter patent war against Samsung Electronics that may change the dynamics of the booming mobile computing market.

Analysts said the court ruling strengthened Apple’s position ahead of the iPhone 5 launch and could cement its dominance in the market as companies using Google’s Android operating system — which forms two-thirds of the global market — may be forced to consider design changes.

Samsung’s stock slumped 7.5%, wiping off more than $12bn (€9.5bn) from the South Korean company’s market valuation.

Apple was awarded $1.05bn (€838m) in damages after a US jury found the Korean company had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad.

The verdict could lead to an outright ban on sales of key Samsung products.

“While a ban would likely increase Apple’s leading smartphone share in the US market, we believe this verdict could lead to Samsung also delaying near-term product launches as it attempts to design around Apple’s patents,” Canaccord Genuity analysts said in a note.

Shares of Apple were up 2% at $676.71 on the Nasdaq yesterday, after hitting an all-time high of $680.87 earlier in the session. Google shares were down 1.3% at $669.57.

As Apple’s market value climbed past $623bn, it surpassed the record set by Microsoft during the heyday of technology stocks in the 1999 bubble.

The verdict comes as competition in the mobile device industry intensifies, with Google jumping into hardware for the first time with its Nexus 7 tablet, and Microsoft’s new touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 operating system coming in October, led by its “Surface” tablet.

The jolt to Android could also mean good news in the near term for Research in Motion’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system and for Nokia’s phones, whose shares rose 7.7% on the news.

Shares of the BlackBerry maker were up 3.1% at C$7.09 on the Toronto exchange, while Microsoft’s stock was up 0.8% at $30.81 on the Nasdaq.

“The verdict does not come as a surprise,” wrote William Blair & Co analysts. “From Apple’s perspective, Samsung’s market size position and its leadership in the handset world was something the company could no longer overlook, and viewing this as another ‘imitation is a form of flattery’ was not possible.”

“Companies such as Samsung, who we categorise as fast followers, have been viewed by the industry for their ability to quickly adopt the latest handset trends… rather than their ability to introduce fundamental innovation.”

Samsung, which sold around 50m phones between April and June — almost twice the number of iPhones — will have to pay less than half the compensation Apple sought. The damages are just 1.5% of annual revenue from Samsung’s telecoms business.

While the victory does not cover new Samsung products including the Galaxy SIII, Apple will push its case on these products in the near-term, Evercore Partners analyst Mark McKechnie said.


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