Analyst: Rise in Digital HD Demand Helps Apple

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster attended last weekis IBC trade show in Amsterdam, where he interviewed 35 digital video professionals and concluded that demand for high-definition work is on the rise, which will help sales of Appleis Final Cut Studio.

He found that 70% of pros are doing some editing in HD, with 28% of their work, on average, performed that way, up from 22% last year. At Aprilis NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show in Las Vegas, 25-35% of respondentsi work was being done in HD.

In addition, 83% of IBC interviewees expect to spend as much, or more, on post-production tools in 2007 compared to 2006, up from 53% last year. "We believe this is likely the result of demand for HD content intensifying in Europe," the analyst wrote. He noted that "Apple had one of the busier booths at IBC, packed with customer sessions."

The company led respondentsi lists when asked which vendors they will spend money with next year. Apple was named by 42% of them, followed by Autodesk (33%) and Avid (21%). Other responses comprised 17%. Interviewees could name more than one company.

All of this wonit result in a huge boost to Apple, revenue, however, considering that only 11% of the respondents who use Final Cut had switched from Avid, and the suite of pro tools only accounts for less than 3% of Appleis income, according to Mr. Munsteris estimate. He did note, though, that Final Cut is "a way for Apple to continue to expand its footprint and entice potential customers into buying a Mac Pro."

Mr. Munster retained his "Outperform" rating on Appleis stock, with a $99 price target. At 1:34 PM EST on Tuesday, the companyis shares were selling for $73.44, down 0.61% amidst a broader market weakness spurred by unrest in Thailand.

An Associated Press article noted: "Traders watching Thailand closely are certain to remember how trouble in the kingdom has had worldwide implications in the past: The Asia currency crisis that erupted in 1997 began with the devaluation of the Thai baht, then snowballed into an international economic downturn."

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