Analyst: Mac Sales Down, But Above Estimates

Mac sales for the March quarter have dipped just like previous years, but not as much as many analysts expected. Based on information provided by 20 Apple Specialist Resellers, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that Mac sales are down only slightly compared to the December 2006 quarter. Those numbers mean that Apple may beat analyst esitmates of 1.45 million Macs sales for the quarter.

"In our checks with 20 Apple retail stores, 85 percent of resellers expect Mac sales in March 07 will decline slightly versus December 06, while the other 15 percent expect Mac units will be flat quarter over quarter," he said. "In general, resellers defined islightly decline as a 5 to 10 percent drop from December 06 to March 07."

He also notes that 65 percent of the resellers stated that the MacBook is selling better than other models.

Mr. Munster expects that Apple will release the next version of its operating system, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), in mid-April. Anticipation of the new OS does not seem to be negatively impacting current Mac sales, but instead users holding out for the release of Adobe Creative Suite 3 seems to be having a bigger impact than Leopard.

Apple Specialist Resellers are expecting the now available Apple TV to be a big seller, but not initially. Instead, they feel the home entertainment device will start off slow and build momentum as consumers become more familiar with its features.

"Almost all [of the] resellers in our sample said they expect Apple TV will have a minor impact on business in the near term (next 1 to 2 quarters), with Apple faithful buying in an initial surge and others spending some additional time figuring out what Apple TV is," he said.

Mr. Munster is maintaining his "Outperform" rating and target price of US$124 for Apple stock. APple is currently trading in the pre-market at $91.35, up 0.22 (0.24%).

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