SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s stock touched a new high Wednesday, reflecting investors’ renewed faith in chief executive Tim Cook’s ability to outwit the competition and expand the technological hit factory built by the late Steve Jobs.
The milestone represents a dramatic turnaround in sentiment since Apple’s shares reached its previous split-adjusted peak of $100.72 in September 2012. After hitting $101.09 Wednesday afternoon, shares closed up 4 cents at $100.57. That gave Apple a market value of $602 billion — by far more than any other publicly held company.
Apple’s stock had fallen to a split-adjusted $55.01 in April 2013 to wipe out about $300 billion in shareholder wealth amid worries that the Cupertino, Calif., company had run out of ideas without Jobs as its mastermind. The anxiety escalated as sales of iPhones and iPads slowed amid the growing popularity of less expensive smartphones and tablet computers from Samsung Electronics and other rivals relying on Google’s free Android software.
Now, there are signs that Samsung’s devices are losing momentum while Apple prepares to release the next version of its iPhone this fall and investors wait for Cook to deliver on his promise to introduce a product that will open up new opportunities. The breakthrough is widely expected to be a smartwatch that will include sensors to help people monitor their health.
Hewing to its secretive ways, Apple hasn’t provided details about its upcoming products.
Cook, though, has been raising hopes that Apple is poised to create a new product category for the first time since the iPad’s release four years ago. ‘‘We’ve got some great things that we’re working on that I’m very, very proud of and very, very excited about,’’ he told analysts in April.
Anticipation for the next iPhone already is running even higher than the usual frenetic buildup. Apple’s stock hit its previous high the last time the company increased the iPhone’s screen size.
Apple’s stock has nearly doubled since Cook became CEO, outpacing the roughly 70 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 in the same stretch.