“Apple is the seventh-largest personal-computer vendor in the world, but is widely regarded as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world. Key factors are enabling Mac momentum to defy macro conditions. We believe Mac performance is due to several unique drivers that were not present in prior downturns. We anticipate that Apple will continue to grow at a multiple of the overall market for many years to come,” Credit Suisse explains as they initiated coverage of Apple Inc. (AAPL) with an “Outperform” rating and a 12-month target price of $200, as reported by Barron’s.

“First, Apple has successfully reduced the perceived and actual switching costs for Windows users looking to adopt the Mac platform. Second, Apple’s support of the Intel architecture has leveled the playing field in terms of speeds and feeds comparisons between Macs and PCs. Finally, Apple’s successful retail strategy has broadened the availability of Mac products and given Apple more control over the critical computer-selling process. Users can now explore the advantages of the Mac platform with highly trained Apple sales reps,” Credit Suisse writes.

“iPhone economics have changed for the better. After considering the economic costs of iPhone unlocking, we find that the new business model is likely to be far more profitable for Apple over the long term,” Credit Suisse writes.

“We believe Apple’s valuation is set to expand and we would be buyers of the stock. Our 12-month target price of $200 equates to a price to earnings multiple of 30 times our calendar 2009 earnings per share estimate of $6.66, which is about in line with the stock’s one-year average, but still below historical levels,” Credit Suisse writes.

More in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Chuckles the Microsoft CEO” for the heads up.]