Apple's stock has hit a hat-trick of 52-week highs in the past month because of music-related announcements, analysts say.

Analysing the market's reaction to the launch of iTunes Music Store for UK, France and Germany, as well as Airport Express CNN's Eric Hellweg said: "The Store is a terrific sales generator for iPods, those wildly profitable portable music players, and the best thing about AirPort Express from an investor perspective is the fact that it's made for Mac and PC users."

Needham & Co analyst Charlie Wolf said: "A successful launch of the Europe Stores could bring its weekly total to 5 million songs from 3.5 million,

However, Hellweg suggests Apple's success in the European market is "far from guaranteed". "When the iTunes Store launched in the United States, it was the first of its kind. That's not the case in Europe. Peter Gabriel's OD2 is the big player in various European markets, and even Napster set up shop on the Continent before Apple."

Analysts say another reason for the climbing stock is Apple's forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, at which Jobs is expected to announce new products, including a 60GB iPod and a low-cost Mac.

Calls for the latter are significant, says Hellweg. He notes that analysts IDC is reporting further erosion of Apple's share in the PC market, now down to 2.8 per cent from 4 per cent. Recent reports suggest a new low-cost Mac could help Apple win back some market share. "It appears that a bet on Apple is now a bet on its music prospects."

Wolf agrees: "Investors are betting on Apple's music story and not the Macintosh story. If they were betting on the Mac story, the stock would be in the teens."

As if to prove Hellweg's point, analysts at First Albany yesterday issued a neutral rating on Apple while raising their estimates for the company. The company issued a note stating: "Apple is likely to witness re-accelerated momentum in iPod’s unit growth by the September quarter. The company is poised for robust near term unit growth in its iPod Mini and iTunes products in the European market. And Apple is expected to benefit considerably from its summer launch of the HPod (HP's iPod) in the forthcoming quarters."

Apple shares are currently trading at $32.91.