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FTN Equity Capital Markets analyst Bill Fearnley, Jr. Monday morning raised his rating on Apple (AAPL) to Buy from Neutral. He set a price target on the stock of $140.

Fearnley also upped his EPS estimate for the September 2009 fiscal year to $5.66, from $5.19, well above the Street at $5.19. And for FY 2010 he goes to $6.67, from $6.04, above the consensus at $5.94.

At the root of his upgrade is the notion that Steve Jobs might not be quite as crucial to the company’s future as some people believe. “We have re-evaluated our thesis and now believe any potential product disruptions from the CEO’s leave will be smaller than we previously thought,” he writes. “We also believe investors are more prepared for the potential for a change in the role of the CEO.”

Apple Monday was up $2.55, or 2.6%, to $102.27.

Source: Apple Upgraded: Jobs May Not Be Crucial to Company's Future