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Monday, November 24, 2008, 04:30 pm PT (07:30 pm ET)

Apple stock surges on belief MacBooks "peel away" Windows users

Investors returned to Apple shares in force on Monday and sent the stock climbing a massive 12.5 percent after reports said Apple was likely to profit on a wave of converts to its new aluminum MacBooks.

A research note by investment analyst Yair Reiner of Oppenheimer & Co. set the blueprint for the dramatic $10.37 gain in Apple's stock over the trading day as he believed the new, unibody designs and their built-in media features were enough to attract a fresh round of buyers and persuade Reiner to raise his estimates for Apple's earnings per share during the holiday season's quarter from $1.36 to $1.39.

The one-piece metal design is alluring enough that it should "continue to peel away users from the Windows mold" despite many either being short on cash or just hesitant to buy in the current climate, he says.

In turn, JP Morgan's Mark Moskowitz was more aggressive still, boosting his own valuation from a cautious $1.29 per share to $1.38 based on the same predictions of strong performance for the MacBook line.

Both researchers are nonetheless cautious and still expect a downturn. JP Morgan and Oppenheimer alike lowered their estimates for iPhone sales, while Moskowitz has also downplayed expectations for iPods despite the usual spike in sales that comes with holiday shopping.

The launch is helped in no small part by news of additional US government aid for Citigroup, which helped the entire Dow Jones surge about $397 in Monday trading. Nonetheless, early sales data also supports the claims, with October Mac sales spiking by 28 percent in October despite the new MacBook and MacBook Pro only being made available for sale during the last half of the month.

Separately, one researcher speaking to AppleInsider has also estimated that Apple could easily blow past expectations for the quarter based on the hidden value of its deferred revenue from iPhones and a likely better-than-anticipated performance for the Mac.