Apple shares continue to increase, boosted by strong iPod sales, optimism at the company's new video sales and expectation of its major move to Intel processors in 2006.

The company has moved from being a niche player in the personal computer market to become an IT industry powerhouse, with analysts expressing more optimism by the day.

Apple's shares reflect the positive sentiment, closing at $74.05 last night, and climbing to $74.17 on after-hours trading. This is all the more remarkable when you stop to consider that its shares have been as low as $30.80 a pop in the last 52 weeks.

Analyst Benjamin Reitzes of UBS fuelled the fire yesterday, raising his estimates on the stock to $86 from $74, saying: "We are excited about the prospects for further revenue contribution from iPods due to what we perceive as a positive mix shift to video iPods."

He advised clients that Intel Macs could ship as soon as January, according to Dow Jones.

"The analyst believes that the company has more plans in the area of digital entertainment and media that include new hardware, content and services," the report adds.

Jim Fehrenbach, head of Nasdaq trading at Piper Jaffray told Reuters: "Consumer electronics, like the iPod, the Xbox and flat screen TVs are all the major holiday items this year."