Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich is one of the best stock pickers, according to Forbes.

Milunovich is an Apple watcher and a believer in the iPod's "Halo Effect". In April he announced that Apple had taken 3.6 per cent of total US-based PC shipments in the March quarter, up from 2.6 per cent in the year-ago quarter and claimed that this was "solid evidence of the halo effect".

Nor does Milunovich believe that music download services from the likes of Sony and Napster will be a threat to Apple's iTunes Music Store. Milunovich recently said "We are not big believers in the subscription model where consumers pay indefinitely to listen to their favourite songs".


Milunovich predicted that Apple would sell 4.5 million iPods in the second quarter of 2005 - Apple sold 5,311,000 iPods in the three months to March. He predicts that Apple will sell 20 million iPods this year.

Following a recent meeting with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, Milunovich made another prediction about Apple; he expects Apple to reveal iPods with wireless and video capacity before Christmas.

In addition to Apple, Milunovich also covers IBM, Sun, HP, Dell, Ingram Micro, and Lexmark.

Forbes' rankings were compiled by StarMine, and are intended to "present equity analysts who in 2004 proved themselves superior at one of two skills: accurately forecasting earnings or recommending when to buy, hold or sell."

Milunovich has an Excess Return of 29.2 per cent and an Industry Benchmark of 13.0 per cent.