updated 01:05 pm EDT, Wed April 19, 2006
Strong second half
Piper Jaffray today maintained an "outperform" rating and a $103 price target on Apple shares, with benefits to arise from new Mac releases and new iPods heading into the second half of 2006. "Following the March quarter results report, we believe the Street will start to place more focus on the back half of calendar 2006," Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster wrote. The firm expects a new video iPod with a larger screen and a higher capacity Nano, coupled with tailwind from seasonality. Munster expects Apple to report in-line or slightly below Wall Street estimates -- which expect earnings of 43 cents per share on revenue of $4.54 billion, according to a report from Forbes.com. Apple is set to hold a conference call today to discuss the financial results of its second quarter, and is offering live coverage via its website.
Munster believes that Apple is on schedule to meet or just miss his iPod unit estimate of 9 million, but said his estimate of 1.3 million Mac units is probably too high.
"Based on our iPod NPD analysis and MacBook Pro inventory issues, we believe our estimates for the March quarter are too aggressive," the analyst admitted.
Due to slim a MacBook Pro supply, the analyst believes that Mac sales will be closer to Wall Street expectations of 1.16 million, despite strong iMac sales. Checks revealed that MacBook Pro availability was severely constrained during the first month of shipment, according to the report.