American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu on Monday issued a new research report obtained by The Mac Observer. In it, he writes: "Based on our checks with industry and channel sources, we believe Apple will release new enhanced versions of Mac mini and iBook product lines within the next two weeks, in time for the important back-to-school season." He expects the Mac mini to receive 512MB RAM and built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth (currently it comes with 256MB RAM and AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth are optional), while he thinks the iBook line will add a widescreen model, which is currently only available to PowerBook purchasers.
Mr. Wu also writes: "Both these refreshes should help spur sales. However, like other refreshes, a key thing to watch is whether the enhanced lower-end product will cannibalize higher-end ones. For Mac mini specifically, the question is whether an enhanced version will cannibalize sales of iMac G5, which many customers have opted to buy instead of the current Mac mini."
He maintains his "Hold" rating on the stock "as we find its valuation rich and our fundamental concerns remain. We prefer the risk-reward in the mid-$30s." In past research reports, he has cited the risk associated with the switch to Intel processors, as well as the heavy competition Apple sees in the MP3 player market, as reasons to be cautious. He has a US$44 price target on the shares. At 12:30 PM EST on Monday, Apple shares were selling for $43.80, down almost 0.5% for the day.