Apple's shares led a US market rally yesterday on an extremely positive assessment from ThinkEquity analyst, Jonathan Hoopes.

In a glowing reference, he told clients: "Never in the history of the PC has a company been better positioned to both gain market share and improve profitability."

Hoopes added $10 to his estimate on the stock, revealing a new $100 target price.

Strong sales exceed industry

"We believe Apple shares will warrant a higher earnings multiple as several likely catalysts play out on the horizon," he said.

The analyst believes strong pent-up demand for Macs in Europe for children returning to school has already given Apple a strong selling season.

Looking ahead, Hoopes anticipates strong holiday sales for Apple, telling clients: "In our opinion, Apple's retail stores are primed for a solid holiday selling season with the recent iPod line up refresh and further Mac momentum."

Next year, Hoopes believes that iLife '07 and the release of Leopard could add another $400 million to the company's profits in 2007.

Convergence catalyst to boost Cupertino

"We believe recent improvements in iTunes and the impending iTV set-top box product launch will serve as catalysts for Mac OS X users to upgrade, in our opinion. We are forecasting Apple CPU unit shipments to increase 28 per cent year-on-year in calendar 2007 - a rate which is over twice the current projected PC market unit shipment growth rate of 12 per cent according to IDC," he added.

The analyst expects Apple to continue to invest its profits into research and development and marketing to help drive additional PC market gains.

Apple closed up 3.8 per cent ($2.75) at $75.75 on the Nasdaq yesterday.