Analysts Disagree on Impact of Weak NPD Mac Sales Data

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Morgan Stanley and Bears Stearns analysts on Friday issued conflicting research reports on Apple, based on their analyses of the latest NPD data, which shows slower-than-expected Mac sales. The former felt that the weakness was overblown while the latter was optimistic but sees ongoing issues with the Intel transition.

"The February NPD point-of-sale data does not reflect initial robust shipments of Apple Computeris MacBook Pro and/or sell through of the new Mac Mini, Morgan Stanley says," according to NewRatings.com. "The analysts mention that the current weakness in Apple Computeris share price, on account of data related to the companyis component supply chain and point-of-sale, is overblown."

Morgan Stanley maintained its "Overweight" rating, along with its US$90 target price.

Bear Stearns also kept its "Outperform" rating on Appleis stock but cut its target price from $103 to $100. Analyst Andrew Neff cut his Mac shipments estimate for the current quarter from 1.13 million to 1.06 million, according to Forbes, and sliced his EPS estimates for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years.

However, he did state that he sees the recent drop in Appleis share price "as a buying opportunity, with Appleis price-to-earnings at 17 times our calendar 2007 operating earnings-per-share estimate," he wrote. "Looking ahead, we remain optimistic. Our expectations include an Intel-based iBook, true video iPod, wireless iPod, other innovations in coming months."

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