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Monday, November 27, 2006, 12:30 pm PT (03:30 pm ET)

Firm boosts Apple target to $110 following Black Friday survey

Shares of Apple Computer reached historical highs on Monday after ThinkEquity Partners released a research note indicating strong sales at the company's retail stores during Black Friday.

Shares of the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker hit an all-time high of $93.16 before retreating over $3.00 to $90.09 in late afternoon trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

In a note to clients, analyst Jonathan Hoopes said a survey of 28 Apple retail stores on November 24 — dubbed "Black Friday" to signifying the day many retails hope to go from losses (red) to profits (black ) — suggested likely upside to his estimates for the December quarter.

"Our survey covered 8 states and logged per-hour visitor traffic from as few as 69 visitors in the early morning to over 1,750 visitors in the early evening," he wrote. "According to our observations, Apple's Retail Store conversion rate was over 8 percent on Friday (in other words, we witnessed over 8 purchases for every 100 visitors, on average)."

The analyst noted that the majority of the purchases "fit into a small bag" but added that sales of "larger beyond-the-box items" also appeared healthy. Overall, he estimates that Apple's retail store traffic ranged between 860,000 and 916,000 visitors on BlackFriday, likely generating between $36 million and $41 million in sales.

Following the results of the survey, Hoopes, who maintains a Buy rating on Apple, increased his price target on shares of the company to $110 from $100.

"Never in the history of the PC, has a company been better positioned to both gain share and improve profitability, in our opinion," he wrote. "We believe investors should stay focused with a 'Look at the Core' — that is, understand that Apple's software holds the keys to both share gains and margin expansion."

Monday marked the second time Hoopes has raised his target on Apple in just over two months. On September 25, he upped his target to $100 from $90 after checks indicated accelerated back-to-school CPU share gains.