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Piper Jaffray places emphasis on Apple shares ahead of Macworld

Investment bank Piper Jaffray on Monday added shares of Apple Inc. to its Alpha list, a short-term categorization meant to place extra emphasis on companies whose shares hold potential for significant near-term appreciation due to particular catalysts and market conditions.

"We are adding Apple to the Alpha list, expecting material upside in the next 90 days," Sr. Analyst Gene Munster informed clients in a research note. "Given their recent pull-back, shares of Apple should benefit from sales of Apple's most innovative product lineup ever during the seasonally strong December quarter as well as new product announcements at Macworld in January."

In supporting his new recommendation, the analyst noted that shares of the Cupertino-based cpmpany over the past four years have increased by an average of 42.5 percent between October 1 and December 1.

"We believe there is potential for similar gains this year for several reasons," he wrote. "In recent years Apple has announced new or updated iPods in the fall, and this year is no exception. We believe the new iPod touch, iPod classic, and iPod nanos give Apple its strongest product line-up for the holidays in company history."

Another factor likely to cause shares of Apple to rise during the December quarter, according to Munster, is the hype that builds as the annual Macworld Expo and Conference approaches.

"Each year the company announces new products in early January and throughout the month leading up to the event, speculation regarding future products has caused the stock to increase," he advised clients. "The Macworld factor has, in part, led to an increase in the share price of 37 percent on average throughout the December quarter."

The analyst, of course, did not overlook iPhone as another near term catalysts, explaining that the touch-screen handset is poised for a strong December quarter, driven by robust holiday demand from gift-givers.

Apple is presently just one of several companies with a seat on Piper Jaffray's Alpha list, a categorization which is separate from the firm's standard share rating, which for Apple remains a Buy with a 12-month price target of $250.00.