Financial analyst Lehman Brothers' Dan Niles yesterday raised his rating for Apple, leading company shares to rise.

Niles praised Apple's strong back-to-school sales and "other initiatives", CBS MarketWatch reports. He raised his rating to "overweight" from "equal weight."

The analyst also said the company: "stood to gain from the long-term potential from its Power Mac G5s and music-related revenue."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs chose Apple Expo to repeat his promise that the company would ship 3GHz Power Macs by next summer.

Standards and Poors (S&P) credit analyst Martha Toll-Reed last week said: "Dell, Apple and IBM are all expected to be early beneficiaries of IT spending improvement." S&P sees signals of growth in the US PC industry, led by increased consumer spending on computers.

Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson, who serves on the US Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Board, recently revealed that Apple’s consumer market-share climbed from 1.5 per cent in June 2001 to 3.5 per cent in June 2003. He added that Apple's US education share had climbed from 15 to 16 per cent.

A recent ThinkSecret report claimed that Apple's Q2 US notebook marketshare had jumped two per cent against the previous quarter, accounting for seven per cent of the US market, making Apple the fifth biggest notebook manufacturer there. The report claims that Apple continues to buck trends – while most vendors saw notebook sales rise eight per cent, Apple achieved 48 per cent growth in the quarter.

Apple will webcast its financial results announcement on October 15 at 10pm BST.

Lehman Brothers yesterday raised its target price for Apple stock to $24 per share from $22. Apple closed up 61 cents (2.95 per cent) at $21.30 per share.