Apple could ship 22.5 million iPods in 2006 claimed analysts at Prudential Equity Group today.

Forbes reports the analysts raised earnings estimates and price targets (from $45 to $75) of Apple in response - and believes "upside" remains within the estimates.

"We expect strong sales from new announcements made at Macworold Expo", they indicated, and these potential sales are not included in the estimates.

Prudential estimates Apple could see earnings per share of 53 cents on $3.25 billion revenue in the first quarter 2005. The analysts predict earnings of $1.65 per share on $11.8 billion revenue in 2005, and $2.20 per share on revenue of $14.2 billion in 2006.

The analysts expect first quarter iPod sales at around 4.25 million units, with 15 million iPods sold in 2005 rising to an estimated 22.5 million iPod sales in 2006.

iPod sales remain crucial, and sales are rising. The iPod, "is capable of moving both the revenues and earnings needles materially", the analysts said.