Report: 40 percent of holiday iPod sales went to first-time buyers

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Following a meeting with Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook earlier this week, investment bank Goldman Sachs reiterated a Buy rating on shares of the electronics maker, saying the company's industry leading product cycles should help it overcome softer seasonality and sets the stock up for s strong second half.

"Even with the recent strength in all of Apple’s product lines, there continues to be significant opportunities in all three [of its business] segments," analyst David Bailey wrote in the first of two research notes released to clients.

Specifically, he noted that even though the company's personal computer business has outpaced the industry for 5-6 quarters in a row, Macs still account just 3 percent of the global PC market and thus are far from achieving their ultimate potential in the market.

"Our estimate is for 25 percent unit growth in 2008," he said.

Meanwhile, the analyst noted that while iPod unit growth is clearly declining, improving average selling prices (ASPs) from a positive mix of iPod touch models should enable the company to drive ongoing revenue growth for the foreseeable future.

Of interest, Bailey said the iPod touch is enabling the iPod to reach new customer segments, with more than 40 percent of iPod purchases during the December quarter coming from consumers who've never owned an iPod before, reinforcing his belief that the digital players have a ways to go before reaching their true saturation point.

In a second report, the Goldman Sachs analyst weighed in with his thoughts on the iPhone, noting that Apple remains confident that it's on track to meet its 10 million iPhone unit sales target for calendar 2008 and.

"While we expect those shipments to be more backed-loaded, we continue to look for 11 million units for the year," he wrote. "We remain a buyer of Apple shares as Apple has the fundamental and valuation underpinnings which should allow the stock to outperform on an absolute and relative basis longer-term."

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