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Piper Jaffray: iTunes sales exceeding expectations

In a research note released to clients on Wednesday, Piper Jaffray & Co. Senior Research Analyst Gene Munster said that iTunes sales have already exceeded estimates for Apple's March quarter at 85 million tracks, with nearly a full month left in the quarter. He says that iTunes sales could account for $83.2 million in revenue in the March quarter—or about $35 million more than his firm has been estimating. The analyst said his research indicates that iTunes could 'begin to have a notable impact' over the next two calendar years. Specifically, Munster believes that iTunes may add an additional 3% to his firms revenue estimates for 2006. He further noted that the average iTunes daily run rate (sales) during the quarter has been 1.35 million, primarily in-line with the 1.43 million daily run rate in the weeks following the holidays. "We had been anticipating a more significant drop off in iTunes sales," Munster wrote in his report. Piper Jaffray maintained its 'outperform' rating on Apple with a price target of $50.