Analysts: MacBook Pro Availability Better, But Mac Sales Estimates Still at Risk

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster and American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu on Tuesday weighed in on continued MacBook Pro constraints, despite improved availability. Mr. Munster commented: "Investors are aware that this issue has added risk to Mac estimates for March."

The analyst recently called 40 Apple stores, finding that only four of them had MacBook Pro laptops in stock. However, he said that availability has improved significantly during the past two weeks, and he believes "we are at the inflection point of this production problem being fixed." While other analysts are concerned about the fallout from MacBook Pro constraints spilling into the June quarter, Mr. Munster has "increased confidence in June quarter estimates."

Mr. Wu also commented on the situation, pointing out that "demand for MacBook Pro continues to greatly outstrip supply, but we view the dramatically improved lead times as a positive. We believe Apple is benefiting from improved Intel mobile chip set availability caused by a broader notebook PC surplus."

However, he added, "sales of the new Intel Mac minis appear to be lukewarm, similar to the PowerPC versions it replaced. We are picking up that its higher price points despite more features including faster processors and remote control are causing some hesitation among potential buyers."

Mr. Wu maintained his "Buy" rating on Appleis stock and left his March quarter estimates of $4.43 billion in revenue and $0.43 EPS unchanged. "We continue to believe that consensus revenue and iPod unit forecasts may be unrealistically high," he wrote.

Mr. Munster likewise retained his "Outperform" rating, with a $103 price target.

At 12:48 PM EST on Tuesday, Apple shares were selling for $64.14, up 0.23% for the day.

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