Apple stock named top pick for 2012

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If part of your Christmas gift stash includes a lot of cash, you might want to consider spending it on shares of Apple, Inc. Ticonderoga Securities has named the company's stock the 'top pick' for investors in 2012, mirroring the recommendation made last year by the group.

Of the 20 companies covered by Ticonderoga, Apple was the best performer with a growth rate of 26 percent. Ticonderoga analyst Brian White was quoted on AppleInsider as saying "We believe Apple's portfolio in 2012 has the opportunity to crete more excitement around the story with our expectation for the unveiling of iTV, an 'iPad mini' and a major upgrade with the iPhone 5, while we expect the company to finally come to grips with its surging cash balance and issue its first cash dividend."

The possibility of a cash dividend to shareholders was roundly dismissed by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2010, as the company has preferred in the past to hold onto cash reserves to take advantage of "strategic opportunities."

White isn't the only Wall Street analyst painting a rosy picture for AAPL in 2012. Longtime Apple bull Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray sees growth in almost every Apple product segment with the exception of the iPod. Munster thinks that the next-generation iPhone will have a slightly larger screen and will launch in late summer or early fall. Munster also believes that an Apple television will become a reality this year, and that the company might supplant a new third-generation iPad with a lower-priced entry as well.

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