Analyst: Apple Product Availability Improving; Tiger Outselling TurboTax

Apple Computeris product availability has improved across the board, with the exception of the iPod U2 Special Edition, according to a Wall Street analyst.

In a research note obtained by The Mac Observer, Piper Jaffrayis Gene Munster told clients Thursday that Apple had reduced lead times, particularly for the Mac mini and iPod shuffle, which were until recently heavily backordered. He also noted that Apple had eight of the top 10 music players at, and that Tiger pre-orders was the number one selling software title, outselling even seasonal mega-seller TurboTax.

Mr. Munster told clients that:

  • The 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 estimated ship time declined to same business day from 5-7 days.
  • Both versions of the Mac mini decreased from 1-2 weeks to 5-7 days.
  • Both versions of the iPod Shuffle (512 megabyte and 1 gigabyte) declined to same business day from 1-3 days and 5-7 days respectively.
  • The estimated days to ship the PowerBook G4 has decreased from 4-6 days to 1-2 days.

The sole exception to having improved estimated shipping time was the U2 iPod Special Edition, which Mr. Munster speculated might be related to strong U2 Vertigo 2005 Concert Tour ticket sales.

Appleis delivery times are often watched by analysts, especially among its most popular products. This has been particularly the case with Appleis iPod product line, where massive success has come with the kinds of wait times that can drive customers to competing products. Many of Appleis most popular products are now shipping same business day.

Mr. Munster also made note of something often reported by Mac Web sites, that Appleis position in retailing giant Amazonis top selling lists remained strong. Apple currently has four of the top 10 best selling computers, eight of the top 10 best selling music players, and the number one selling software title.

He wrote, "Appleis OS X 10.4 (Tiger) operating system software, which has not been released yet, was the number 1 seller in the Software Top Seller category. Though it is hard to determine how the rank translates to revenue, it is safe to say that the success of the Tiger pre-order was a surprise to us, given that it is outselling the seasonally strong TurboTax software."

Mr. Munster maintained his Outperform rating on Appleis stock, which means he expects the stock to outperform the broader market. He also reiterated his target price of US$50 for AAPL.

Apple was trading down in the lower $42 per share range in Thursday morning trading, in moderate volume.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in APPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article. ?

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