Jefferies & Co.’s Peter Misek has been one of the most outspoken analysts about Apple’s rumored HDTV product. He first said in November that Sharp was preparing its production lines for the “iTV” and then last month claimed production of up to 5 million units could begin by May with a product launch by Q4 2012. In this morning’s note to clients (via Barron’s), Misek once again claimed television components have begun shipping to Apple’s panel suppliers in Asia and upped his price target to $800 based on “increased confidence” that Apple will indeed launch the product this year. He is also now claiming the product will be dubbed “iPanel.”

Misek said on a recent trip to Asia he saw “polarized films, filters and IGZO components” headed to Apple suppliers in small quantities. Another reason for Misek’s increased confidence is the announcement that Hon Hai Precision will buy a 10 percent stake in Sharp Display. He explained:

Hai and its related entities are the largest shareholder (with a ~6% stake) in Chimei Innolux which is the largest LCD display manufacturer in Taiwan. Recent reports note that Chimei Innolux is running at 80% capacity utilization for its large- size panels, which leads us to believe that Hon Hai’s Sharp investment is less about securing capacity and more about its relationship with Apple and the upcoming launch of the iTV. We believe Sharp and Apple have modified the IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) technology to make much-improved HD displays. The Sharp relationship will enable Apple to diversify away from Samsung and gain additional display capacity with leading-edge technology.

Surprisingly, Misek now believes the product will be called “iPanel.” Misek suggested earlier this year that Apple would go with the “iTV” moniker, a name that Apple originally dropped for the Apple TV set-top box due to complaints from the UK-based TV network also called “iTV.” The TV network has raised concerns recently that Apple might use the name for an upcoming HDTV product. Barron explained Misek’s reasoning for the “iPanel” moniker:

Misek explains in an email this morning that his conjecture regarding the name derives from the fact that the “iTV” name is owned by the U.K. company of the same name, which has global rights, he says, “and won’t sell them based on recent checks,” although it’s still possible in the end the company could sell to Apple. “They may be just negotiating” at present, but he can’t be sure, he tells me… Moreover, “iPanel” is owned by Crestron, “which discontinued its product line and is focusing more on Apple products to integrate in their system,” he adds. It would be consistent, too, with a naming convention of “iP___” for Apple products.

Misek added that the iPanel name makes sense, because the product will be “far more than a TV,” but it looks to be only speculation at this point:

“[…]this is so much more than a TV…It is a display, gaming center, media hub, computer, home automator, etc. Also, Apple would likely have difficulty getting naming rights from the UK TV network ITV.”

We are skeptical of the iPanel name, but Misek still expects “commercial production in May/June with 2M to 5M builds likely.”

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