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Thursday, November 03, 2005, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Fifth-generation iPod sales strong, outselling nano at some stores?

Sales of Apple Computer's new fifth-generation video iPod are coming in ahead of expectations, and in some cases appear to be outselling the very popular iPod nano, says one Wall Street analyst.

In a research note released to clients on Thursday, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said recent proprietary checks with industry and channel sources show sales of the video iPod to be stronger than expected.

"In some cases, in Apple's own channels, including its physical stores and online store, we believe video iPods are surprisingly outselling even the very popular iPod nano," the analyst wrote. "We believe video iPod buyers are mostly installed base users attracted to its high storage capacity, video capability, and reasonable price points, while nanos are attracting more mainstream MP3 users.

On the other hand, Wu acknowledged that this trend is not true for all of Apple's distribution channels, like Amazon.com and Best Buy, where iPod nanos remain the best seller. "We nevertheless view this trend as favorable for revenue and operating income as video iPods have higher ASPs (average selling price) and operating expenses similar to the nano," he added.

For Apple's December quarter, AmTech Research is raising its estimates to 4.8 billion in revenue and 52 cents in earnings per share (EPS), which is up from $4.7 billion and 49 cents per share.

The firm made no changes to its iPod unit forecast for the quarter, which remains at 9.4 million units, but continues to rate Apple a 'Buy' with a new price target of $66.