Emerging markets, price cuts, back to school seen as key factors
In what CEO Tim Cook called the "best ever" quarter for the Mac, Apple's Mac lineup overall jumped a remarkable 25 percent in a single quarter to 5.52 million units. Making the event more noteworthy is the fact that the growth was achieved prior to any notable refreshes. Instead, what appears to be driving the increase in Mac sales is volume in emerging markets, such as China - where Macs were up 54 percent year-over-year. Price cuts and great back-to-school sales also contributed to the jump.
IDC advances theory that iPad sales are cannibalizing Macs
Although Apple still retains about 10 percent of the US PC market and remains the fourth-place manufacturer, new preliminary numbers from market analyst firms IDC and Gartner note that Apple was the only top-five PC manufacturer to post negative growth from the year-ago quarter, dropping between 1.3 and 1.7 percent (the two firms disagree on the specifics). IDC says Apple now holds an even 10 percent, while Gartner says Apple has a 10.6 percent share.
Worldwide softening of PC sales also hurting Macs; iPods down 36 percent
Based on data from NPD (but with a caveat), investment analysts Piper Jaffray has maintained its "overweight" rating on AAPL and reports in a note to investors that it is "comfortable" with its original estimate of a decline in Mac sales year-over-year of around five percent, though it acknowledges that NPD is estimating seven percent. Apple's fiscal year ended on September 30, and it will report the results of that quarter on October 28.
Some analysts had predicted a slight downturn
A new report from market analysts NPD Group indicates that US Mac sales for the month of April were about even with the same month last year, which some analysts see as a positive sign for Apple. However, NPD's data -- which is normally considered reasonably accurate -- only covers US sales, meaning the higher percentage of Mac sales overseas is making meaningful predictions difficult.
Mac sales up down under
New figures show a sharp increase in Apple's market share in Australia over the past year, according to ZDNet Australia. Two analyst firms, Gartner and IDC, came up with different figures, but both showed a dramatic increase in Mac Sales. Garner says Apple's market share in the second quarter of 2008 was 5.3-percent -- up from 3.8-percemt in the same period of 2007. IDC says Apple's Market share hit at 6.2 percent during the first quarter.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has reversed a prior downgrade on share's of Apple Inc, changing his rating on the stock to from Neutral to Buy. Wu's downgrade came right before Apple's blowout March quarter, in which the company announced record revenues on surging Mac sales. Barrons quotes Wu: "We overestimated the potential negative reaction on the quarter and in hindsight should have moderated our near-term posture rather than downgrading. While AAPL shares will likely remain volatile and may offer a better entry point, we need to align our rating with our longer term view on fundamentals." Wu has set a $210 price target on Apple's stock. Barrons also notes that RBC Capital's Mike Abramsky has raised his target price on Apple to $220 from $200, predicting that Apple will sell 14 million iPhones this year.
Apple's holiday quarter
Apple is due to report its December quarter results after the market closes on January 22nd, and research firm Piper Jaffray expects an upside to Wall Street expectations based primarily on Mac sales. Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says Mac sales could reach 2.3 million -- beating out average estimates of 2.2 million -- with iPod sales of 24-26 million over Wall Street predictions of 24.7 million. Munster also says Apple may well report 2.2 million iPhone sales, just shy of average investor expectations of 2.26 million.
Best Buy expands Mac sales
Best Buy is planning to almost double the number of stores that sell Apple-branded goods, according to conversations held with company executives at the Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. UBS analysts say the brick-and-mortar retailer aims to expand its Mac sales to 500 stores in 2008, up from the current 270 outlets, according to AppleInsider.
Leopard Mac sales
Adding to the already swelling analyst enthusiasm over Apple's current and future financial prospects, ChangeWave is predicting that Leopard is making consumers more likely to buy Macs now and in the near future, leading to optimistic sales forecasts. "Apple computer sales continue to show strong consumer momentum. Not only is Apple maintaining the highest satisfaction levels among all manufacturers, but consumer purchases over the next 90 days look exceptionally robust." According to the company's survey data, nearly one-in-four respondents (24 percent) say that the release of Apple's new Leopard operating system makes them more likely to buy a Mac in the future.