Apple continues to gather support in the investor community, with analyst Dan Niles recommending the company’s stock yesterday.

In a complex economic scenario, this analyst attained a 188 per cent return on his investment recommendations for the first quarter 2002.

Niles recommends Apple, citing its PowerBooks, eMacs, and iPods as products likely to generate company growth. He suggests a 12-month price target of $32 per share. Niles also recommends HP and ST Microelectronics stock.

Wall Street analysts seem confident about the company’s stock at this time; of 17 analysts watching the company, ten recommend holding the stock, four recommend buying the stock, and three see Apple’s stock as a ‘Strong Buy’. Consensus estimates predict a 12-month target price of $28 per share.

Market share, another analyst institution, last week predicted that Apple would “outperform” expectations in its current quarter. Recent IDC reports reveal that Apple’s strategy to increase its market-share has had some success, at least in the UK market.

Some industry-watchers have expressed concern that Apple’s decision to release eMac to the wider public may impact on new iMac and Power Mac G4 sales. Others counter that Apple needs budget-priced products to retain market-share in a difficult environment, and needs to offer an approachable upgrade-path to help existing users migrate to Mac OS X.

Apple stock is currently trading at $22.78. The company’s CFO Fred Anderson predicted third-quarter revenues to be up slightly at $1.6 billion when announcing the company’s second quarter results in April. The last quarter saw revenues of $1.5 billion, meeting financial targets.