updated 06:25 pm EST, Thu January 12, 2006
Mac sales to slump?
Analyst Mark Stahlman today of Caris and Company reiterated an "above average" rating on Apple, but for the company. The analyst noted concerns based on "less-than-exciting Mac sales growth as Apple transitions to Intel processors." Stahlman raised earnings-per-share estimates for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 to $2.59 and $3.06, respectively, from $1.91 and $2.33, according to a report from Forbes.com. Apple's updated guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2006 displays a revenue split of two to one in favor of iPods over Macs, compared to "roughly even" sales in 2005.
"With perhaps 135 percent year-over-year sales growth for iPods and only 5 percent for Macs in the quarter, Apple's computer sales momentum is waning," the analyst said.
While Apple recently unveiled its new Intel-based MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktop models at the Expo, "Intel's own roadmap implies that much of the 'good stuff' won't appear until the end of calendar 2006, when next-generation 'Conroe' and 'Merom' are due to ship in volume," according to Stahlman.
The analyst is also concerned that a late-2006 deployment of new Macs will coincide with Microsoft's release of its latest Windows operating system, Vista, "potentially drowning out their significance."
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) could also prove to be a tough competitor, according to Stahlman.
"As impressive as the computer-intensive benchmarks offered by Apple might be, there is no way to avoid the fact that Intel's Core Duo processor is a 32-bit engine that is fundamentally obsolete in a 64-bit x86 world. As AMD ramps to ship its dual-core 64-bit notebook CPU's [...] we believe Apple may lose some of its premium luster," Stahlman said.