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Thursday, June 15, 2006, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple should meet or beat Q3 guidance - analyst

Despite a softening in demand for iPods, analysts believe strong Intel Mac sales will fuel solid third quarter results for Apple Computer, which reports next month.

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said on Thursday that Apple's Mac business appears ahead of plan for the quarter while its iPod business is slightly slacking.

"We are seeing weaker iPod nano shipments offset by strength in video iPods and iPod shuffles," Wu wrote in a note to clients. "We continue to believe the iPod nano is in need of a refresh and will likely see one in the September quarter."

The analyst, however, believes Apple's Mac business "will essentially offset" the weaker iPod sales. "We continue to believe that Apple is on track to hit the upper end, if not exceed, its guidance of $4.2 - $4.4 billion in revenue and $0.39 - $0.42 in earnings-per-share," he wrote.

For the quarter, Wu expects Apple to report earnings of 44 cents a share on sales of $4.4 billion. His model includes 1.3 million Macs (up from 1.2 million) and 8.3 million iPods (down from 8.5).

In a report to clients on Wednesday, PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster said NPD data recently released for the Month of May indicates Apple will report sales of anywhere from 7.7 to 8.2 million iPods. This despite the Street's expectation of around 8.6 million iPods.

Nevertheless, the analyst shares a similar mentality to Wu, in that Mac sales will likely offset softer iPod results.

"The iPod number will likely be a nonevent for the June quarter," Munster wrote. "More importantly, we believe the Mac number has room for upside."