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Friday, May 23, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Goldman adds Apple to its Conviction Buy List

Citing high expectations for the next-generation iPhone leading up to and through its expected launch next month, investment bank Goldman Sach this week added Apple to its coveted Conviction Buy List and also upgraded its price target on the company to $220 per share.

In a research note, analyst David Bailey told clients he expects the combination of a 3G iPhone, third-party applications via Apple's upcoming App Store, and a wealth of new international carriers to push iPhone units of approximately 11 million this year, compared to just 3.7 million in 2007.

"Our analysis shows that Apple will almost double its available subscriber base in calendar 2008 vs. 2007, with 100 percent of that growth coming from outside of the US as Apple signs up carriers in more than 40 new countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa," he wrote.

More specifically, the analyst sees carriers in those new international markets boosting the iPhone's available subscriber base from roughly 97 million in 2007 to 174 million by the end of this year.

"We have only assumed contract subscribers in our analysis, as we think pre-paid customers are not prime candidates for the iPhone," he explained. "While this reduces the available market for iPhone — it would triple in 2008 if all subscribers were included — we think it is more realistic to use the smaller subset given iPhone’s higher-end characteristics."

Bailey reiterated his Buy rating on Apple shares, advising investors that now is the time to build on their positions if they want to "capture the catalyst around the 3G iPhone launch next month and the upside potential from sharply higher projected iPhone sales in the back half of the year."