While its Q1 results may have sparked a profit-taking sell-off amid concerns at Apple's conservative $4.8-4.9 billion Q2 targets, most analysts still favour Cupertino.

Apple's share of the US PC market grew to 4.7 per cent in the quarter, up from 3.6 per cent a year ago, IDC said.

Jonathan Hoopes at Think Equity Research pointed out that Apple's performance was better than the industry at generating notebook sales, and once again stressed software as the company's secret sauce.

Hoopes raised his estimate on Apple stock to $120 per share and once again recommended it as a 'buy'.

"At the core, Apple's superior user interfaces and software is the key to further CPU share gains and earnings power," he said.

The analyst also anticipates that Apple will make sales from PC users facing the upgrade to Vist: if such users have been curious about a Mac before, and need to upgrade their hardware to run Vista, why not get a Mac and run Vista using Boot Camp, his argument suggests.

He also points out that Apple could use the cash it makes selling Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' to finance reductions in prices elsewhere in its product range.

"We expect the next few months to contain a few special events where new software, services, and hardware will be announced. As the product road map becomes more visible, we anticipate top- and bottom-line estimates, earnings multiples,and price targets will be raised further yet," he observed.

Over at American Technology Research, analyst Shaw Wu once again articulated his confidence in the company: "Apple's competitive advantages and growth prospects remain among the strongest in large-cap technology," he told clients, raising his target stock price to $115 and reiterating his buy rating on them.

On the just-gone first Apple quarter, he wrote: "Apple continued to confound and surprise, this time delivering big on December quarter upside."

He pointed out that Apple had once again set income records, delivering a billion dollar profit on over seven billion dollars in revenue. iPod sales beat street estimates by a third, and while Mac sales dipped, the release of Leopard and CS3 will likely stimulate sales soon.

Many investors have been frightened off by Apple's conervative Q2 targets, but Wu warned that the company is typically conservative in its estimates.

"We see several catalysts in the quarters ahead, including Mac OS X Leopard, new movie and carrier partners, lower cost mobile phones, and further extension of Apple's core technology franchise into new business areas," wrote Wu.

Over at Piper Jaffray, analyst Gene Munster oberved that Apple's slight decline in stock value simply reflects investors failed hope for higher Mac sales in the quarter. He doesn't agree the stock's a flop, issuing an upgrade in target price to $124 from $99 and calling the current weakness "a buying opportunity".

"Their guidance is always conservative," he said. "It's a bunch of hoo-ha."

Goldman, Sachs lowered its estimates for Apple's March and June quarters while raising its stock value forecast to $110 from $102 previously.