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Analyst Expects First Intel Macs in 1Q06

Analyst Expects First Intel Macs in 1Q06

by , 3:50 PM EST, December 12th, 2005

While Apple has said it will ship the first Macs with Intel processors by mid-2006, American Technology Research's Shaw Wu last Friday issued a research report in which he speculated that Apple will have its PowerBook, iBook, Mac mini and Xserve computers ready for the transition "as early as 1Q06, with others to follow in subsequent quarters."

Going against current conventional wisdom, Mr. Wu also wrote: "Contrary to speculation, we do not believe the best-selling iMac G5 will move to INTC first as its current PowerPC G5 configurations already offer industry-leading price-performance."

The biggest stumbling block to Apple's processor transition will likely come in the form of software compatibility, which Mr. Wu also addressed. He wrote: "We believe Apple is making great progress in fine-tuning Mac OS X Tiger to run natively on INTX x86 processors."

He added that Apple's Rosetta emulation, which enables older software to run on the new computers, has been improved, which he said "will alleviate concerns that older software that hasn't been ported to INTC will run well without a recompile."

Apple hasn't divulged specific reasons why it's making the upcoming switch, but Mr. Wu cited "power management and the opportunity to enter new markets" as what he thinks are the major reasons. He sees "potential for a lightweight subnotebook or palmtop similar to those offered by Sony, Lenovo, Dell and Sharp."

He added: "We believe there is pent-up demand for an Apple subnotebook and that it would sell very well if priced competitively at $1,499 or lower."

Mr. Wu maintained his "Buy" rating on the stock, along with a US$77 12-month price target and a December quarter forecast that calls for $4.9 billion revenue, $0.54 EPS and 9.7 million iPods sold. At 3:47 PM EST on Monday, with 13 minutes left until the markets closed, Apple shares were selling for $74.99, up 0.89% for the day.

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