Apple Stock Jumps 9.9%; Analysts Bump Ratings on iPod Halo Effect

Appleis stock jumped in after-hours trading Wednesday, and picked up at the same pace when markets opened on Thursday morning. Driving the interest is Appleis December earnings report of record profits and revenue, as well as several Wall Street analysts who have collectively raised both their estimates and their ratings for the company.

For its fiscal first quarter, Apple earned a profit of 70 cents per diluted share, or $295 million, on revenue of $3.49 billion. The results compare to a profit of 17 cents per share, or $63 million, in the year-ago quarter.

In late morning trading, AAPL was trading at $71,87 per share, a gain of 6.41 (+9.79%) on very heavy volume of 30.5 million shares trading hands.

Reuters reported that Banc of America Securities analyst Keith Bachman told his clients: "(We) believe that Apple can grow its consumer share. Our survey work indicates strong brand appeal and interest in converting from Windows systems to Macs based on better media capabilities and virus protection." reported that Prudential upgraded AAPL from a Neutral rating to Overweight, raising its 12 month target from $75 per share to $93 per share.

Banc of America upgraded Apple to a Buy from Neutral, and raised its estimates on Apple for 2005 to $1.87 from $1.64 and up to $2.16 from $1.95 for 2006.

Fulcrum reiterated its Buy rating for Apple, and increased its 12 month target to $90 per share, up from $81.

Smith Barney reiterated its Hold rating, bumping its 12 month target from $75 to $85 per share.

Bear Stearns maintainted an Outperform rating, boosting its 12 month target to $87 per share from $72 per share.

UBS Warburg reiterated a Buy on Apple, raising its target from $77 to $85.

Credit First Suisse Boston maintained a Neutral rating, increasing its target from $70 to $80.

First Albany reiterated a Buy rating, and set a new target of $83 per share, up from $72.

CBS Marketwatch reported that Soleil Securities upgraded Apple Computer to a Buy from a Hold, and that analyst Shannon Cross raised his fiscal 2005 earnings estimate to $2.05 a share from $1.52 and his 2006 forecast to $2.22 a share from $1.79.

The news service also reported that Prudential Securities upgraded Apple Computer to Overweight from a Neutral Weight, and that Analyst Steven Fortuna raised his stock price target to $93 from $75

That marks 11 invstment firms that have increased their targets for Apple, and either raised or maintained estimates for the company.

Bryan Chaffin owns shares of Apple.

<!--#include virtual="/includes/newsite/series/stockwatch.shtml"-->