Investors Watching for Intel Impact

| Apple Stock Watch

Apple is announcing its quarterly earnings Wednesday afternoon, and investors are focusing on the impact switching the Mac to Intel-based processors has had on the companyis bottom line. The March quarter is historically slower for Apple as consumers recover from holiday spending, and this year there are additional factors that may impact overall earnings.

Although Appleis switch to Intel processors is viewed as a good move in the long term, investors fear that the short term impact wonit be as positive. Limited availability of the MacBook Pro, the lack of an Intel-based iBook, and soft Mac mini sales are likely to have a negative impact on quarterly sales. In the long run, however, Mac sales are likely to improve as Apple completes its transition away from the PowerPC processor. The release of Boot Camp, which lets you boot Mac OS X or Windows XP on Intel-based Macs, is expected to draw new users to Appleis hardware, too.

Analysts are also predicting that Apple will report lower iPod sales. iPod sales tend to drop off some after the holiday buying season, and there were no new iPod models released during the quarter. According to CNN Money, iPod sales estimates generally range between 8 and 10 million units.

Even with lower sales, iPod growth is continuing. If Apple announces that it sold only 9 million iPods this quarter, thatis still a 70 percent increase over the same quarter last year.

Appleis stock fluctuated as high as US$85.59 in January, but spent the end of the quarter in the mid $60 range. Many analysts expect that its value is going to rise.

ThinkEquity Partners analyst, Jonathan Hoopes, predicts Appleis the stock will appreciate markedly, noting that the Macis market share is currently low. "Even a (half a percentage point) increase corresponds to very significant top line growth."

Apple stock is currently trading at $66.68, up 0.46 (0.69%).

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