Analyst: New MacBook 'Bodes Well For June'

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster on Tuesday issued a research report in response to Appleis release of the MacBook, its Intel-based successor to the G4 iBook. "Given Appleis flat revenue guidance for the June quarter compared to March," he wrote, "we had anticipated the MacBook would ship in the month of July ... [This] should bode well for June quarter given it appears Apple has built up a supply of the MacBook before announcing it."

He added: "In other words, we donit believe June will be another transition quarter." He said that he checked with two Apple stores and found both of them had the MacBook in stock, which puts the new laptop "about eight weeks ahead of when stores received the MacBook Pro. In other words, it appears Apple has been building up a supply of the MacBook to avoid another March transition quarter."

When Apple introduced the MacBook Pro in January, lead times were four to six weeks, but it took nearly eight weeks for the companyis stores to start stocking the laptop. Availability continued to be constrained after that, which put a damper on the financial numbers Apple reported last month.

Mr. Munster also noted that "MacBook pricing is 10% higher than the iBook," which went against his expectations that the prices would remain unchanged. "Appleis view on pricing is to gain the most market share at optimal profitability," the analyst wrote. "Our analysis is that Macs cost about 10%-15% more than a comparable PC. We believe Apple could have gained more market share if they would have maintained or lowered the price of the MacBook."

With the introduction of the MacBook, along with the pent-up demand for it that Mr. Munster believes exists, he sees the Wall Street consensus of US$4.42 billion in revenue for the current quarter as a conservative figure. "It is important to note that we believed demand for the iBook dropped considerably in recent weeks," he wrote, "which will limit some of the upside in the June quarter. At this point, it is too early to determine what the magnitude of any upside could be."

The analyst maintained his "Outperform" rating on the stock, with a $99 price target. At 1:16 PM EST on Tuesday, Appleis shares were selling for $65.82, down 2.91% for the day amid broader Nasdaq losses.

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