Piper Jaffray has maintained its Outperform rating on Apple's stock as it expects Apple to perform better than the market index over next 12-18 months.

The analysts noted that Apple's business is performing well, despite this being a typically slow quarter and predicted that the Apple's fiscal third quarter will be up slightly from the second quarter.

Piper Jaffray said: "The bottom line from our checks is that while we are not expecting significant upside to June quarter numbers, Apple's business appears to be solid in what is typically a seasonally slower period."

"We are modelling for overall iPod unit shipments of 5.5 million in the June quarter," the research firm said. This is up from 5.3 million in the fiscal second quarter, reports Forbes.

"We believe iPod sales are increasingly becoming less of a focus for Apple specialists, due to improved iPod supply and availability at mass retailers," said the analysts.

The analysts raised their fiscal 2005 and 2006 earnings-per-share estimates on Apple to $1.32 and $1.48, from $1.27 and $1.38 respectively based on the "strong launch for OS X Tiger".