Apple Ready for Holiday Buyers

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says that Apple is better positioned to meet holiday demand this season than it has been in years past. He comments "Our analysis of product lead-times in early December over the last three years shows that Apple has more favorable supply levels this year than in the prior two years."

Some analysts have interpreted easier to come by iPod and Mac inventories to indicate weakening demand for Appleis products. Mr. Munster feels they are wrong.

"We believe that Apple has anticipated the seasonal patterns and is poised to monetize iPod and Mac demand better this year than the company did in the prior two years," he said. "While some may see this as a sign that demand is lower, we believe Apple has simply improved its ability to anticipate and avoid constraints during peak buying times."

Average product lead times for Apple came in at six days in 2004, 1-2 days in 2005, and only 24 hours this year. By fine tuning its supply channels, Apple is minimizing the risk of surplus inventory or falling short of customer demand.

Mr. Munster is rating Apple as "Outperform," with a target price of US$99. Apple stock is currently trading at $88.48, down 1.36 (1.50%).

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