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Top-selling iPhone 5 flanked by strong sales of legacy iPhone 4S & 4

While the iPhone 5 has been the top selling handset at the three largest carriers in the U.S., Apple's legacy iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 handsets have also been strong performers this holiday shopping season.

Channel checks conducted by Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity found that sales of the iPhone 5 have been "very strong" at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. He also indicated that international sales of Apple's latest smartphone have been positive for the company.

While the iPhone 5 is Apple's top selling model, as expected, Walkley's checks also found that sales of the legacy iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 models have also been strong. In particular, he discovered that the iPhone 4 — which is available for free with a new two-year service contract — was sold out at many stores.

Apple has also worked to catch up with demand for the iPhone 5, and inventory is said to be greatly improved, resolving earlier constraint issues. Apple's ability to meet demand comes as the company is set to launch the iPhone 5 in more than 50 new countries in the next few weeks, including China, South Korea, Brazil, Russia and Taiwan.

With those launches set to take place during the holiday quarter, Walkley sees Apple selling a total of 47.5 million iPhone units for the three -month frame. That would represent a 77 percent sequential unit increase in iPhone sales.

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By the end of the year, Apple will have launched the iPhone 5 in 100 countries with 240 carriers. Given the continued strong performances of the iPhone 4S, released in 2011 and iPhone 4, from 2010, Walkley believes this is only the beginning for the iPhone 5 in what he expects will be a "strong multi-year product cycle."

Canaccord Genuity has reiterated its "buy" recommendation for AAPL stock, with a price target of $800. Walkley believes strong sales of the iPhone — Apple's highest margin product line — will help the company achieve gross margins of 38.7 percent in the December quarter.