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Tuesday, November 07, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Adobe's CS3 seen driving new Mac sales in 2007

The release of Adobe's Creative Suite 3.0 professional software package next year will be a catalyst for new sales of Apple Computer's Intel-based Macintosh computers, according to one Wall Street analyst.

PiperJaffray senior research analyst Gene Munster recently spoke with 50 Adobe customers and found that 24 percent expect to buy a new Mac within two quarters of the release of Adobe's CS3. Due by April of 2007, CS3 will represent the first version of the creative software bundle that is fully optimized for Apple's Intel-based Macs.

"The bottom line is that there is significant pent-up demand for Intel-based Macs among the Adobe creative pro community," Munster wrote in a research note. "Adobe creative pro customers cannot run their Adobe apps at full effiency on an Intel-based Mac until CS3 is released, so many are waiting until that time to upgrade their machines."

Of the 50 Adobe users the analyst spoke with, 10 percent said they have already upgraded to an Intel Mac and another 24 percent indicated that they expect to upgrade within 2 quarters following the release of CS3.

According to Munster, Adobe maintains a creative pro customer base of approximately 3 million users. With 10 percent having upgraded to a new Mac within the last 2 quarters, he assumes for analytical purposes that approximately 300,000 (150,000/quarter) Adobe creative pros already own Intel-based Macs.

"If we assume that our forward estimates are also based on 150,000/quarter Macs that are sold to Adobe's creative pro customer base, we would come to a figure of 600k Macs sold to Adobe creative pros by the time CS3 ships in April of 2007," he wrote.

"This leaves us with 2.4 million Adobe creative pro customers that are yet to move to a new Mac. If 24 percent of these customers upgrades to a new Mac within the first 2 quarters following CS3 release (Jun-07 & Sep-07 quarters), we can expect 288,000 Macs sold to Adobe creative pros in each of those 2 quarters."

Munster noted that the aforementioned model would yield about 138,000 more Mac sales per quarter than he had been anticipating based on estimates of 150,000 Macs per quarter. Those additional unites would add 7 percent or 4 cents to his earnings-per-share estimate for both the June 2007 and September 2007 quarters, he said.

The analyst maintained his "outperform" rating on shares of Apple with a price target of $99.