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UBS analyst sees iPhone creating "halo 2" for Apple

Apple, Inc.'s launch of the iPhone is the catalyst for a second halo effect that will spur the company's core iPod and Mac businesses, says analyst Ben Reitzes of UBS Investment Research.

The researcher's note to investors in the wake of Apple's Q307 report observed that Apple's high-intensity promotional campaign for the iPhone was likely to repeat the effect the iPod has had on the Mac maker's computer sales in the near future, luring customers into stores once again and in some cases persuading them to buy the very iPods that were responsible for the previous halo.

"We believe investors should focus on Apple being in the process of creating another version of the 'multiplier effect,' which we call 'Halo 2,'" Reitzes said. "We believe the build up to the launch of the iPhone and its ongoing excitement is driving sales of accessories, boosting retail traffic, and helping drive sales of iPods and especially Macs."

Worries about potentially low iPhone sales were "overblown,'" he added, noting that Apple was able to sell its new cellphones far faster than AT&T could activate them during the initial 30 hours and that the European iPhone launch details, plus Apple's recently updated MacBooks, would help the company grow through the end of the year.

Reitzes also emphasized that upcoming product releases were wild cards that Apple could play to its advantage and beat estimates. Mac OS X Leopard's introduction in October would be a clear factor, he said. But it could be unknown devices released over the summer, rather than currently publicized releases, that drove sales beyond current expectations.

"We are particularly excited about a possible iMac redesign," he wrote. "In addition, we continue to believe Apple may be working on some kind of 'ultra-portable PC' or some kind of device that can bridge the gap between media playing, basic wireless computing needs, and even some type of gaming."

The analyst also predicted that sweeping changes to Apple's staple iPod lines could reinforce the electronics firm's growth. A video iPod with a large touchscreen and iPod nanos with increased storage were probable, he claimed. Additional iPhone models and iTunes movie rentals weren't anticipated but were mentioned as possible boosts to Apple's profits if they appear in the near term.

UBS reflected the positive outlook with a new "buy" rating and raised the target share price from $160 to $175.