Merrill Lynch Sees Updated iPod Line Boosting Sales

Apple Computer will sell some 4 million iPods and iPod shuffle units during the current (March) quarter, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich.

In a research note to clients obtained by The Mac Observer, Mr. Milunovich said that the update to the iPod mini announced earlier on Wednesday, and the price reductions to the iPod photo should "help iPod units decline only 35% sequentially from 4.6 million to 3 million."

Apple sold those 4.6 million iPods during the Christmas buying season of the December quarter, before the iPod shuffle was introduced in January. With supply of the iPod shuffle constrained because of flash memory shortages from Toshiba, Mr. Milunovich sees some 1 million of the shuffle units being sold during the current quarter, for a total of 4 million iPods and iPod shuffles.

Mr. Milunovich reiterated his Buy rating for Apple, as well as his price objective of US$102 per share.

AAPL closed at $88.23, a gain of 2.94 (+3.45%), on heavy volume of 23.9 million shares trading hands.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in APPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article. ?

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