updated 04:55 pm EDT, Tue October 14, 2008
Analysts on new MacBooks
The announcement of a $999 plastic MacBook may be more significant than the revelation of metal MacBooks and MacBook Pros, say analysts with UBS and Piper Jaffray. The former firm notes that while the metal notebooks are more attractive, and boast features such as glass trackpads and better graphics hardware, the $999 system is Apple's first notebook under $1,000, which "could be a key psychological threshold," according to UBS' Maynard Um. Many Windows notebooks are priced between $500 and $1,000.
This factor may be particularly important, Um says, in light of the overall economy, which is still suffering badly in spite of gains in recent days. By providing an affordable MacBook, Apple may be able to reach a larger segment of the public; wealthier shoppers, meanwhile, should have access to more attractive hardware combinations.
While Piper Jaffray is generally in agreement with UBS, it adds that the computers may be deliberately arranged to nudge people towards the $1,299 price point, which is actually $300 more than the cheapest last-generation option. It is because of this that Piper anticipates gross margins remaining on track; September-quarter margins are expected to be as high as 33 percent, and it is thought that FY09 margins will beat Apple's estimate of 30 percent.
UBS is predicting EPS of $1.11 off $8.1 billion in revenue for the September quarter, and has set a price target of $125. This is based on a value of 18 times the adjusted EPS estimate for FY09, which is $6.78.