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Thursday, January 18, 2007, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple's Mac market share slipped during Dec. quarter - report

Citing preliminary data from market research firm IDC, an analyst for PiperJaffray said Thursday that Apple's worldwide share of the personal computer market fell to 2.4 percent during the three-month period ending December, down from a 2.8 percent share two quarters earlier.

"While Apple gained share year-over-year (from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent), it lost share sequentially," analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients. "Mac market share is generally higher in September quarters, due to strong education-related sales."

The analyst said he expects Apple's market share will "bounce back" following the release of Adobe Creative Suite 3.0 in the April timeframe. "We estimate 15 percent of Apple's installed base are pro Adobe users, waiting for CS3 to be released before buying a new Mac," he told clients.

Munster, in his note, went on to say that a Mac unit sensitivity analysis suggests that if Mac market share averages 3.5 percent throughout the 2007 calendar year, his fiscal 2007 earnings-per-share (EPS) estimate of $2.59 would be $0.44 or 14 percent too low.

As a result, the analyst increased his fiscal 2007 EPS estimate to $3.03 and also upped his price target on shares of Apple to $124 from $99.

"The Mac number was respectable, profitability is at record levels, and the iPod number increased Apple's footprint by 29 percent," he said of the company's fiscal first quarter results released Wednesday. "More iPod users result in future sales of related products including Mac, iPhone, and AppleTV."