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Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) continues to say nothing about its cell phone plans, but news about the much discussed iPhone continues to leak. This morning, Prudential’s Jesse Tortora asserted that “the production ramp has already begun” in small quantities for an Apple slim phone to be available for sale late in the first quarter of next year, or early in the second quarter. Tortora expects a smartphone to follow 1-2 quarters later, “likely” in the third quarter.

He also expects Apple to produce a music phone and a wide-screen iPod. In fact, he believes Apple is planning volume production of a widescreen iPod for the calendar first quarter of 2007, with an introduction late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter.

Tortora says he expects Apple to sell 7 million iPhones in calendar 2007 and 15 million in 2008, contributing 8 cents a share to earnings in fiscal 2007 and 29 cents in fiscal 2008.

Meanwhile, Tortora says there is “new evidence that Apple has hired video game designers,” which he says suggests that “Apple may have interest in entering the video game market longer-term.”

Tortora lifted his profit forecast for the September 2007 fiscal year to $2.73 a share from $2.61, in part based on anticipation of iPhone sales. To date, while many analysts have talked about the iPod, and its potential contribution to earnings, not many have started including it in their forecasts; and it is unusual to see an analyst include the contribution from an unannounced product in earnings estimates. Bold move, and one which suggests a new round of Apple estimate increases is coming, assuming all the buzz about the iPhone is right.

Tortora also increased his price target on the stock to $87 from $74, which would seem like a big jump is not for the fact that the stock is already above even his new target price. As you will not be surprised to learn, Tortora has a Neutral rating on the stock.

Meanwhile, in a separate note, Prudential semiconductor analyst Mark Lipacis says that Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) is a “potential candidate” for the MP3 chipset socket in the iPhone, which he says would partially offset Broadcom’s absence in the next generation Apple video iPod. He thinks the iPhone could generate $50 million in revenue in 2007 for Broadcom, and $100 million in 2008.

Lipacis also said that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is a “potential candidate” to supply NOR Flash memory for the Apple phones.

Lipacis continues to rate Intel Underweight and Broadcom Overweight.

AAPL 1-yr chart:

aapl

Source: Apple Begins Production Of iPhone