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Tuesday, January 16, 2007, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Strong Mac, iPod growth may lift Apple past Street estimates

Apple Inc., which reports results for its fiscal first quarter of 2007 after the close of the market on Wednesday, is likely to meet or slightly beat consensus estimates with help from robust sales of Macs and a rebound in iPod shipments, according to American Technology Research.

"Based on our analysis, we believe Apple is on track to report results in-line to slightly above consensus at $6.4 billion and $0.78, but well above Apple's guidance of $6.0-6.2 billion and $0.70-0.73," analyst Shaw Wu wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Wu, noting that consensus estimates have moved up considerably over the past month to catch up to his once-above-consensus view, is modeling the company to report earnings of $0.79 per share on revenue of $6.4 billion.

His breakdown calls for continued strength in the Mac business to account for 38 percent of Apple's first quarter revenue, with overall shipments rising 11 percent sequentially to 1.8 million units.

On the iPod side — which he believes will account for another 40 percent of total revenue — the analyst expects to see "a continued rebound" of 77 percent sequential growth to 15.5 million units, based on strength in iPod shuffle and special edition red iPod nanos.  

Looking ahead to Apple's second fiscal quarter ending March, Wu said consensus out-quarter revenue estimates "appear reasonable" for the first time in over a year. Still, he sees the company guiding conservatively, but in-line, to $5.1-5.3 billion in revenue. His own model currently stands at $5.2 billion and $0.63 earnings-per share, versus consensus estimates of $5.2 billion and $0.60.

"We are forecasting a large sequential decline in iPods to 9.3 million units, but believe this will be offset by Apple TV shipping in February," Wu told clients. "As we have mentioned before, we believe Apple TV with its attractive price point of $299 could be a surprise hit."