Industry-watchers are increasingly convinced Apple will launch an Intel-powered PowerBook at Macworld Expo, San Francisco next month.

Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner yesterday told clients: "We are becoming more convinced that Apple will introduce its first Intel-based PowerBook at Macworld San Francisco," Reuters reports.

He's optimistic that Apple's decision to migrate to Intel processors faster than previously announced will mean it ends up with less unsold stock of PowerPC-based Macs than he feared. Apple had said it would ship its first Intel-powered devices in June 2006.

Gardner raised his target price on Apple stock to $71 from $51, and raised his 2007 earnings estimates for the company to $24.3 billion from $19.6 billion.

Gardner's PowerBook prediction supplements yesterday's report hinting that Apple may release an Intel-powered Mac mini next month.

Macworld Expo, San Francisco begins January 9.