Analyst: Demand for Mac & iPod Strong; Apple Improves Supply

Demand for Apple Computeris Mac and iPod product lines remains strong, according to a Wall Street analyst. In a research obtained by The Mac Observer, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told clients that decreasing lead times for Appleis products, coupled with continued demand vis-à-vis Amazonis Top Seller lists, shows that Apple has improved its ability to supply product, and not that demand is slacking. In that same light, Mr. Munster dismissed any concerns relating to a recent announcement from an iPod supplier for June quarter guidance as seasonal in nature, and not an area of concern.

Mr. Munsteris research found that lead times for most of Appleis product line, including the Mac mini, continued to decrease during the last few weeks, and is currently at one business day for most products.

"While critics of the AAPL story will suggest greater product availability represents a slowing demand environment, we disagree," wrote Mr. Munster. "As evidenced by strong overall results from Amazon.comis Top Seller Lists, we believe that demand for both Macs and iPods remains strong. Apple is becoming efficient at building products, and for the first time in a year, should have enough product to meet demand."

Apple currently has four of the Top 10 best-selling computers at Amazon, four of the Top 10 MP3 players (down from eight at the end of March), and both the #1 and #2 spots in Amazonis Electronics Top Sellers list for the OS X Tiger and OS X Tiger Family Pack.

On Friday, April 22nd, iPod scroll-wheel maker Synaptics provided guidance for the June quarter that was lower than analyst estimates heading into the companyis quarterly conference call. Mr. Munster told his clients his quarterly estimates for iPod shipments remained at 3.3 million units (excluding the iPod shuffle), and this was in accordance to normal seasonal fluctuations.

"From a headline perspective, Synaptics comments are negative," he wrote, "but it is important to keep in mind: 1) we do not believe there have been any significant changes to Appleis dominant market share, and 2) while not a positive, it is reasonable to assume that due to seasonality, June quarter iPod unit shipments would fall from December and March quarter levels."

Mr. Munster maintained his "Outperform" rating on AAPL, as well as his US$52 price target on the stock.

Apple traded higher in Monday morning trading.

*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.  

<!--#include virtual="/includes/newsite/series/stockwatch.shtml"-->