Originally created 11/23/04

iPod seen lifting Mac sales



NEW YORK - Apple Computer Inc. stock jumped to a four-year high Monday after a major Wall Street firm nearly doubled its price target on the stock, saying that customer satisfaction with its iPod music player is creating "wildfire word-of-mouth marketing" for its Mac computers and other products.

Shares of Apple traded at $61.63, up $6.46, or 12 percent, Monday morning on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Apple shares traded as high as $64, besting the 52-week high of $56.91 set Friday. This is the highest the stock has been since September 2000. The year-low of $19.25 was set Dec. 22.

In a research note Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster raised his price target to $100 a share from $52 and reiterated an "outperform" rating on the shares.

"The bottom line from our survey is that 13 percent of iPod users in our sample users were formerly PC users that, following the purchase of their iPod, have already either purchased a Mac (6 percent) or are planning to buy a Mac within 12 months (7 percent)," Munster wrote.

Taking a conservative stance and accounting for possible error, the analyst cut the estimate suggested by the survey in half, putting at 6.5 percent the expected increase in Mac sales by iPod users and reflecting the rate of carryover in his fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2006 estimates.

Fulcrum Global Partners analyst Robert Cihra boosted his December quarter revenue estimate to $3.23 billion from $2.86 billion, and now sees earnings of 50 cents a share instead of 41 cents a share.

He raised his share price target to $65 from $53, saying he expects iPod shipments to double quarter over quarter to 4 million units, driving revenue 300 percent higher than last year.

Apple officials couldn't be reached for comment.