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Apple most likely PC maker to gain market share in 2005

According to one analyst, Apple is the PC maker that stands to gain the most market share in the new year.

Morgan analyst Rebecca Runkle today lowered her 2005 unit-shipment growth forecast for the PC market to 9 percent from 11 percent over 2004. She cites better-than-expected performance in the market in 2004, as well as signs of a slowdown in the market late in the year.

In a research note, Runkle said Apple Computer shows the best chance of gaining market share in 2005. \"Apple should continue to benefit from the momentum of the iPod and its recent new iMac release,\" she said. Runkle also expressed a favorable outlook for Dell and Gateway in the new year.

Before today\'s opening bell, Smith Barney analyst Richard Gardner raised his price target on Apple to $75 from $60 but lowered his rating on the stock to \"hold\" from \"buy,\" explaining that the company\'s shares are not likely to go beyond $75 in the next 12 months.

Also on Friday, Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf lowered his investment rating on Apple\'s stock to \"hold,\" saying much of the potential upside to the company\'s business is reflected in the current stock price.

\"For valuation reasons, we\'re downgrading Apple from Buy to Hold,\" Wolf wrote in a note to clients. \"With the stock now trading close to $70 we believe that most of the upside is now captured in Apple\'s current share price.\"

Apple shares, which have more than tripled in value this year, fell $2.53, or 3.9 percent, to close at $62.68 on the Nasdaq.