Apple's incredible stock value spurt seems to have levelled-off, with analysts downgrading the stock to 'Hold' and evidence of some profit-taking activity.

Shares closed at $62.68, down $2.53 (3.9 per cent) on the day's trading Friday.

Market activity followed Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf's decision to downgrade his assessment on Apple stock to 'Hold' from 'Buy'. "Future earnings increases, particularly from the iPod, had already been priced into the stock", he said.

"With the stock now trading close to" $70, he wrote, "we believe that most of the upside is now captured in Apple's current share price."

Despite Wolf's warning optimism continues to surround Apple, with analysts at JP Morgan this morning raising earnings estimates for the company, on the strength of anticipated good holiday sales.

They called concerns about Apple's current stock value "understandable" because its value has climbed so fast, but added: "We believe expectations for the company's revenue and profit growth may still prove conservative."

JP Morgan expects Apple revenues to reach $12.92 billion for $1.69 earnings per share, up from the $11.4 billion originally anticipated.

Analysts at First Albany this morning instead maintained a 'buy' rating on the company's stock and raised the target price to $72 per share. "Robust demand for and improved availability of iPods and iMac G5 products are likely to boost the company's performance in the near future." First Albany suggests that Friday's slight loss of share value constitutes an "investment opportunity".

First Albany expects Apple's annual earnings per share for 2005 and 2006 to reach $1.57 and $1.65 respectively.

Smith Barney last week began to advise its clients that near-term profit-taking on Apple stock could be justified.