Zacks: Investors May Want To Consider Taking Bite Out of Apple

by , 6:30 PM EDT, October 5th, 2004 has published a list of highlighted stocks that are part of its "Zacks #1 Ranked" list. Highlighted in today's listing are Apple Computer and Claire's Stores, both of which are rated as a " Strong Buy." The firm cited Apple's new affiliate program for the iTunes Music Store, the success of the iPod, the company's financial results from the last quarter, and the growth in sales for both the iPod and Mac. From the company's press release:

Apple Computer, Inc. designs, manufactures and markets personal computers and related personal computing and communicating solutions for sale primarily to education, creative, consumer, and business customers.

Last month, Apple Computer released its iTunes Affiliate Program, making it the first download music store to offer direct links to a la carte singles and albums that generate paid commissions to affiliate Web sites. The iTunes Affiliate Program will complement successful iTunes programs including iTunes on Campus, and the iTunes Volume Discount Program.

The iTunes Music Store is the world's number one music service with over 125 million songs purchased and downloaded to date. Apple previously reported a strong fiscal third quarter performance, which included net profit of 17 cents per diluted share, excluding charges.

The third quarter result more than tripled the year-ago performance while exceeding the consensus by more than +21%. It also marked the sixth consecutive quarter with earnings per share above Wall Street's expectations. Revenue in the quarter reached $2.01 billion, which was up +30% from last year. During the quarter, Apple shipped 876,000 Macintosh(R) units and 860,000 iPods, marking year-over-year advances of +14% and +183% respectively. Earnings estimates for the year ending September 2004 are above levels from three months ago by 3 cents, or about +5%. Apple is one of the biggest innovators in its space and continues to have a lot of potential for the future, so investors may want to consider taking a bite out of this company.

These comments are largely in sync with recent comments from Piper Jaffray, and contrast with the opinion of Soleil Securities Group that we covered earlier today. Piper Jaffray rated the stock an "Outperform," while Soleil Securities rates the stock a "Hold."

AAPL closed today at 39.37, up 0.58 (+1.50%), on volume of 7,254,436 shares trading hands.