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Apple to unveil Intel laptop next month - analyst

Responding to speculation?

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Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner has added his voice to those predicting Apple will announce a notebook computer based on an Intel processor in January 2006.

"We are becoming more convinced that Apple will introduce its first Intel-based PowerBook at Macworld San Francisco," Gardner said in a note to clients, Reuters reports.

It's hard to know whether Gardner has any specific information on the matter or is simply responding to the numerous claims regarding what Apple CEO Steve Jobs will unveil when he takes to the stage for his annual Macworld keynote.

Certainly PowerBooks and iBooks have been suggested as candidates for having Intel Inside: both still use aging G4-class PowerPC processors, Intel has new, powerful mobile processors coming out next quarter, and Apple's notebooks are increasingly its most popular computing product lines.

That said, the Mac Mini has also been said to be due an Intel upgrade early next year, to form the basis for Apple's pushing into the emerging home media centre market.

Whatever Apple announces next month, Gardner reckons it will boost the company's fortunes. He upped his forecast for Apple's FY2006 from $17.6bn to $20.4bn, with earnings up from 172 cents a share to 216. Q1 FY2006, when comes to a close with the 2005 calendar year, will generate for Apple $5.5bn in revenues, he said, more than the $4.8bn he previously forecast, on the back of Christmas sales, particularly of the new iPods. He increased his quarterly earnings forecast from 47 cents a share to 60.

For 2007, Gardner expects revenue of $24.3bn and earnings of 261 cents a share. ®

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