Piper Jaffray Sees Nano Supply Constraints Easing

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster on Tuesday issued a new research report obtained by The Mac Observer. Mr. Munster noted that estimated ship times for 4GB white and black iPod nanos have decreased at the online Apple Store, which "indicates some of the supply constraints appear to be easing."

The decrease in estimated days to ship is partly due to the release of the video iPod, Mr. Munster hypothesized. However, "the true test in availability of the nano will be the holiday buying period from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31," he wrote.

He also pointed out that the number of iPods on Amazon.comis Top 10 MP3 Players list is now eight, up from seven on Oct. 21. Among all electronics sold at the online retailer, the nano holds two spots in the Top 10 and four in the Top 20, "which we believe further supports Appleis stronghold [sic] of the MP3 player market," Mr. Munster said.

The analyst also looked at Mac shipping times on the Apple Store, as well as the computersi presence on Amazon.comis bestseller lists. 17-inch G5 iMacs are now shipping in five to seven days, up from three to five days on Oct. 21. All other lead times are unchanged, with the 20-inch G5 iMac shipping in seven to ten days and the Power Mac G5 Quad shipping in three to four weeks. Apple can ship all other Macs on the same business day.

As for Amazonis lists, the number of Macs in the Top 10 is now eight, an all-time high since Mr. Munster began tracking it. "We believe that increase is primarily due to the launch of the new iMacs, PowerBooks and Power Macs," he wrote. However, the number of Macs in the Top 20 dropped from 13 on Oct. 21 to 11 on Oct. 31.

According to the analyst, the big picture behind these numbers is that while digital music is important to Apple, "we do not believe the iPod is the only growth avenue for the company. Indirectly, we expect the iPod to continue to be a foundation for growth in other parts of Appleis business."

He added: "We expect that by the end of CY05 [calendar year 2005] more than 37 million iPods will have shipped, providing Apple with a greater scope of awareness for various products (ihaloi effect). It appears that this phenomenon has begun to take effect, with a record 1.23 million Macs shipped in the September quarter."

Mr. Munster maintained his "Outperform" rating on Appleis stock, along with his US$60 price target. However, he expects to review the latter during the next few weeks.

At 1:25 PM EST, Apple shares were selling for $57.32, down 0.47% on a day when both the Dow and the Nasdaq were trading lower.

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