Analyst: Apple Earnings Likely Above Guidance

| Apple Stock Watch

After conducting a survey of 20 Apple specialist stores and a review of NPD data, Piper Jaffrayis Gene Munster has concluded that Apple Inc. will likely report earnings on Wednesday that are slightly above estimates. The Street consensus places the number of Macs sold for the December quarter at 1.75 million, and the number of iPods at 15.75 million.

The company is also expected to report US$6.42 billion in sales with $0.78 EPS. If Mr. Munsteris estimates are correct, however, Apple will come in above those numbers.

Apple has a long track record of guiding conservatively and then hitting the middle of its guidance range. He commented "Specifically, over the last seven quarters, Apple reported revenue above the mid-point of its revenue guidance range in each quarter. On average, the company beats the mid-point of its revenue guidance range by 8 percent."

Focusing on the March quarter, Apple is likely to offer guidance in-line with or slightly below analyst estimates with $5.22 billion in revenue and $0.60 EPS.

"We continue to believe Apple has multiple growth drivers in CY07 and beyond," he said. "Near-term drivers include continued Mac market share gains, new operating system release (OSX Leopard with in the next 3-4 months), and AppleTV (to be released in February)."

Long-term growth is expected to be fueled by the iPhone and the continually growing content library at the iTunes Store.

Mr. Munster is rating Apple as "Outperform," with a target price of $99. Apple stock is currently trading in the pre-market at $97.49, up 0.39 (0.40%).

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