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Mac sales momentum predicted to push Apple stock to $305

Apple's astounding gains on Wall Street are expected to continue, with a second consecutive quarter of more than 30 percent year-over-year Mac sales growth predicted to help push the company's stock to $305.

In a note to investors issued Monday morning, analyst Shaw Wu with Kaufman Bros. formally raised his price target for AAPL stock to $305, up from $295. He also increased his estimates for the March quarter, projecting $12 billion in revenue and $2.50 earnings per share, up from previous estimates of $11.6 billion in revenue and $2.31 EPS.

Weeks ago, Wu also increased his forecast for iPhone sales, up to 7 million handsets in the March quarter. Like many other analysts, he upped his prediction after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs revealed at the iPhone OS 4 unveiling that his company has shipped more than 50 million iPhones to date.

Sources have also indicated to Wu that Mac sales were particularly strong during the quarter, with the analyst expecting year-over-year growth of more than 30 percent. He said strong sales will be based on broad adoption in both the U.S. and abroad.

A potential peek at Mac sales came from new estimates last week. Research firm Gartner released new data that said Apple was the fifth-largest computer maker in the U.S. for the first quarter of calendar 2010, shipping an estimated 1.398 million Macs stateside. Competing firm IDC had a lower estimate for Apple, with 1.13 million Macs estimated shipped in that period.

For the three-month period ending in March, Wu has predicted Apple shipped 2.9 million Macs globally, 9.5 million iPods and 150,000 iPads in preparation for the device's April 3 launch date. Last week Apple revealed that the iPad sold more than 500,000 units in its first week, though those sales came after the March quarter had concluded.

Apple is set to announce its earnings after the market closes on Tuesday, and Wu said he believes the Cupertino, Calif., company's guidance for investors could be less conservative than usual. Wu said he still believes Apple will give its "vintage conservative" guidance, consistent with low numbers given in seven out of the last eight quarters. But he said Apple's guidance could be slightly more optimistic due to the strong start of the iPad, as well as last week's MacBook Pro refresh, adding Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors to the top-end professional notebooks. Wu has modeled $13 billion in revenue for the June quarter, with $2.69 in earnings per share, both above Wall Street consensus of $12.9 billion and $2.68 EPS.

"We continue to believe that AAPL is positioned to outperform in this tough macroeconomic environment with its defensible strategic and structural advantages and its vertical integration," he wrote.