“After years of being lumped in with the also-rans, it may be about time for Apple to crow a little. While the company has never lost its cult following on the technology side, investors couldn’t get past its dwindling market share and the faint smell of irrelevance in an era of price wars from Dell and Hewlett-Packard. So when Apple shares started to perk up after the company announced its iTunes music store in April, many watched from the sidelines,” K.C. Swanson reports for TheStreet.com.
“Whoops. Since then, the stock has shot up nearly 75% (as of Tuesday’s close of $24.12)… Analysts say the company is on track to report healthy growth when it reports December-quarter results after the bell, courtesy of a refreshed computer line with faster processors from IBM and updated Mac OS X software, as well as surging sales of iPods. Sales should total around $1.93 billion, up 12% from the prior quarter on the heels of a fat Christmas season, with earnings of 14 cents, according to consensus estimates,” Swanson reports.
“Merrill Lynch — which had dropped coverage of the stock — issued a report Tuesday recommending investors buy the shares. In the note, analyst Steve Milunovich predicted sales will jump 18% in fiscal 2004 to $7.3 billion, while EPS will double to 42 cents. ‘We think Apple has gotten its act together in focusing on core markets, building a mature management team, and most important innovating again,’ he wrote,” Swanson reports.
Full article here.