CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL - Get Report) iPhone is gaining yet more momentum entering 2011, according to analyst firm Pacific Crest, which raised its estimates Friday ahead of the anticipated launch of a CDMA iPhone running on Verizon's ( VZ - Get Report) network.

"The likely launch of a CDMA iPhone on Verizon in Q2 prompts us to raise our second-quarter iPhone unit estimate to 15.2 million from 12.0 million," said Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest, in a note. The analyst firm, which expects to see a Verizon iPhone prior to the end of March, also raised its full year iPhone estimate from 54.1 million units to 59.9 million units.
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Earlier this week, equity research firm Canaccord Genuity also raised its Apple estimates, citing healthy demand for both the iPhone and the iPad. Canaccord also pointed to an expected launch of the Verizon iPhone and a new iPhone 5 as key catalysts for the tech giant's earnings next year.

Pacific Crest hiked its Apple earnings estimates from $18.43 to $19.61 for fiscal 2011 and from $19.62 to $20.89 for fiscal 2012. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are forecasting earnings of $18.98 and $22.08 in fiscal 2011 and 2012, respectively.

"We believe stable product pricing, falling component prices or unit upside from iPhone and iPad could drive upside to our estimates," added Hargreaves in his note. Pacific Crest also raised its 12-month Apple price target from $330 to $355.

Apple shares have risen more than 50% this year, buoyed by the company's iPad and iPhone 4 launches, and the tech giant is now pushing its iPhones into emerging markets such as China.

Last month, tech research firm Gartner reported that Apple enjoyed stellar iPhone sales during the third quarter, increasing the pressure on BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion ( RIMM).

Apple shares have climbed more than 50% this year, and investors are eagerly awaiting the impact of potential new products and alliances in 2011. The company's shares, however, dipped 82 cents, or 0.26%, to $317.32 on Friday, despite a modest uptick in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 0.36%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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