Piper Jaffray: Apple Struggling to Meet MacBook Pro Demand

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research report issued Tuesday that limited availability of the new laptop means Appleis overall Mac sales may come in under his 1.298 million unit estimate for the quarter. On the upside, "demand for the MacBook Pro is clearly not an issue," he wrote. "Apple retail stores have seen significant interest in the product and most have a backlog of people waiting to buy."

Recently, Mr. Munster and fellow analyst Michael Olson checked MacBook Pro availability at 40 Apple retail stores, discovering that only four of them had the computer in stock. Even the locations with laptops available, however, only had one to three of them on hand. Twenty-eight stores, or 70%, have waiting lists. Shipping lead times for MacBook Pros at the online Apple store are two to three weeks.

In conclusion, Mr. Munster wrote: "We are recommending purchase of AAPL shares, given that controversy surrounding limited availability of the new MacBook Pro appears to be priced in. Apple will ramp MacBook Pro production in the near term."

Regarding the iPod, the analyst said: "Our preliminary analysis of iPod unit shipment data from NPD leads us to believe that Apple is on track to meet or slightly exceed our iPod unit assumptions. Specifically, our analysis of data for the month of January points to iPod units of 9.3m in the March quarter." He expects Apple to sell 9 million units, while the average estimate from 11 Wall Street models is 9.5 million.

Mr. Munster retained his "Outperform" rating on Appleis stock, with a US$103 price target. Despite broader Nasdaq weakness, Apple shares were selling for $66.11 at 12:39 PM EST on Tuesday, up 0.96% for the day.

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