Analyst: iPhone may top sales goals

UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said in a research note on Tuesday that Apple may sell more than 800,000 iPhones in the fourth quarter. That would top Apple’s own estimates of 730,000 units for the quarter.

Citing continued strong demand for the iPhone at Apple and AT&T retail stores, Reitzes said his estimates are conservative.

“Our checks continue to indicate solid demand for the iPhone despite typical moderation in excitement from launch and extremely high expectations,” wrote Reitzes.

Apple reported selling 270,000 iPhones during the first weekend it was available, which was also the last two days of the third quarter. Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted during the third quarter earnings conference call that the company would sell its one-millionth iPhone by the end of the fourth quarter.

Apple’s goal is to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008.

iPhone sales will get a boost from deals Apple has reportedly made with mobile phone operators in three of Europe’s largest markets. Germany’s T-Mobile Deutschland, France’s Orange SA and Britain’s O2 (UK) are reported to have signed exclusive deals to sell the iPhone in their respective markets.

Reitzes positive outlook for Apple doesn’t stop with the iPhone. He is also expecting good things from the company’s computer line in the future.

“In addition, we believe the Mac story is exciting as demand is strong for notebooks and recently introduced iMacs,” he said.

Enthusiasm for Apple’s notebooks seems to be well founded as market research firm NPD yesterday put Apple’s U.S. retail notebook market share for June 2007 at 17.6 percent. That is an increase of 2.2 percentage points over the same period last year when Apple posted a 15.4 percent market share.

According to data from research firm IDC, Apple’s continued rise in computer sales puts it in third place overall among all computer makers in the U.S. This is the first time since 1996 that Apple finds itself this high on the list of top selling manufacturers.

Investors reacted positively to the news boosting Apple’s stock to $130.95, up $3.38 or 2.65 percent.

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