BW: Apple Forecasts: Not Just Hype

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Analysts are trying to guess whether Appleis forecast for this quarter was genuine, aggressive and largely on target or still the traditional understated forecast provided in the past, according to Arik Hesseldahl at BusinessWeek on Monday.

Historically, Apple has understated its forecast for the next quarteris earnings. Then Apple exceeds "expectations." However, analysts know that and tend to generate their own forecasts.

At last quarteris financial results, Peter Oppenheimer mildly stunned everyone with an unusually aggressive forecast for their fiscal 2008 first quarter, Oct-Dec 2007. He said that sales would hit US$9.2B

"Was Apple taking a new tack and giving aggressive numbers closer to the ireali target or still giving the understated outlook? The consensus among analysts seems to be the latter, and theyire back to making predictions for the coming year that may send the minds of even longtime Apple watchers reeling," Mr. Hesseldahl wrote. "Even some of the most optimistic among them may be right."

For example, Andy Neff with Bear Stearns has set the target AAPL price in 2008 at US$249. [Others have sugested $300.]

Chatter about both expected product releases in 2008, like the 3G iPhone, what Steve Jobs might anounce at Macworld, and Appleis quarterly financial results, due after Macworld, are leading analysts to believe that nothing short of a failed product launch can slow Apple down.

Rumor mills are rife with discussions about a sub-compact notebook and/or a tablet computer which might be announced at Macworld.

Mr. Hesseldahl pointed to Bear Stearns analyst Andy Neffis prediction of 8.8 million Macs to be sold in 2008 and sales of US$32.5 billion. "Ten years ago, during Appleis darkest days, who would have predicted that?" Mr. Hesseldahl asked.

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