Apple stock closed at $44.98 last night, as Wall Street investors considered the company's best quarter earnings for nine years.

To a background clamour of analysts raising their estimates for Apple's 12-month target price, the company's stock climbed $5.34 (13.16 per cent) on the day's trading. The stock closed at $39.75 Wednesday.

Speaking Wednesday, Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer confirmed that iPod sales are bringing new customers to the Macintosh: "We continue to sell still, (in) retail stores today, close to 50 per cent of computer sales to people who are either buying the PC for the first time are or new to (the) Mac. I think one of the big reasons is the halo effect that the iPod and music is having."

Analysts at Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan, First Albany, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Sterns all raised their estimates or assessments of the company's stock yesterday. Apple has become the third best-performing stock in the Standards & Poors 'Top 500' list this year.

JP Morgan analyst Bill Shope predicts that Apple will remain dominant in the digital music market, and agreed with Oppenheimer's assessment: "Sales of iPods at the company's Apple stores may finally be driving computer market share," he said.

Apple's stock currently stands at its highest value since September 29, 2000.