THE APPLE INVESTOR: Apple Hits New High

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CHART OF THE DAY: iPad Estimate Sales Vs. iPhone, iPod, Nintendo, april 2010

AAPL briefly hits new high.
Apple hit a new high this morning, $251, before the SEC’s fraud charges against Goldman Sachs clobbered the market.  Additional upcoming catalysts for Apple include March quarter results on Tuesday, April 20 (after close); the international release of the iPad (May 10); and the launch of the next generation iPhone anticipated this summer. Let’s hope that investor expectations haven’t gotten too lofty, or we could have a big sell off next week after earnings a la Google (down 6% today). AAPL currently trades at the high-end of the tech group at 18x estimated fiscal-year 2010 EPS and 20x Enterprise Value / Trailing Twelve Months Free Cash Flow.

How Will The iPad Do Versus Other Gadgets? Sales Estimates Look Conservative (Business Insider)
How will the iPad sell compared to other mobile devices? According to a chart put together by Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty the iPad probably won’t blow the doors off. Huberty sees it selling less than the iPhone, Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. She estimates Apple sells 7 million iPads in its first year and 16.5 million over two years. Based on the sales of other gadgets, her estimates actually seem conservative.

Apple Quarter Likely Solid, Investors Will Shift Focus To iPad and iPhone Launches (RBC)
RBC Analyst Mike Abramsky expects Apple to beat estimates this quarter (as is largely anticipated). Abramsky forecasts 3.05 million Mac units (up 38% year-over-year), 7.5 million iPhones (up 98% year-over-year), and healthy margins (40%). Guidance for the third fiscal quarter will likely be inline with expectations. Given the runup in shares ahead of the quarter, investors will likely turn their attention to the pending iPad 3G and international launch. He reiterates his Outperform rating and $275 price-target.

Controversy Over Apple PC Market Share (Click)
It’s the battle of the research firms over Apple computer market share. Gartner estimates that Apple’s Mac shipments rose 34% in the first quarter, which implies an increase in market share to 8% from 7.2% last year. Conversely, IDC estimates that Apple’s Mac shipments in the U.S. rose just 8.3% last quarter, implying that the company lagged the broader market and actually lost market share, falling to 6.4% from 7% last year. Given the momentum in the Mac business as reported by the company, we are going to have to side with Gartner on this one. See Apple’s computer unit sales mix here.

It’s All About The iPhone (Market Watch)
iPad aside, the number of iPhones sold will really drive Apple this quarter. At the iPhone OS 4 launch last week, Steve Jobs said Apple had sold 50 million iPhone units to date. Backing into that number would mean that units sold during the quarter would be around 7 million versus analyst expectations of about 6.8 million. The number could even be as high 2 times the number sold last year (3.8 million). “Strong sales for the iPhone in the quarter would be notable, given that Apple is widely expected to announce new versions of the device this summer.”

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