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Friday, December 03, 2010, 06:55 am PT (09:55 am ET)

iPad predicted to drive 50% of Apple's financial growth in 2011

The iPad, a product that didn't even exist a year ago, is expected to cause nearly 50 percent of all growth for Apple in fiscal year 2011, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Robert Cihra with Caris & Company issued a note to investors on Friday noting that Apple's growth is "stunning." He said the company has managed to effectively create its own growth through innovation, while its competitors are lost "in a sea of otherwise commoditized hardware."

In the December quarter, Cihra expects Apple to sell 6.7 million iPads. He has also projected the sale of 32 million iPads in fiscal year 2011, accounting for more growth in Apple's bottom line than the iPhone.

"A product that didn't even exist a year ago... now leads an entire charge to thin-client access/computing architecture," he wrote. He sees the iPad "igniting an explosion toward 'thin-client' access computing, with Apple's most extensible advantage its lightweight iOS software and apps ecosystem."

Cihra sees the iPhone accounting for more than 40 percent of Apple's fiscal year 2011 growth, with 64 million units sold. He also sees another 5 percent expansion in the company's bottom line thanks to the Mac platform, where he sees sales increasing 19 percent year over year.

Accordingly, Caris & Company has raised its price target for AAPL stock to $400, up from its previous projection of $375.

Caris & Company


Looking forward, Cihra sees iOS becoming "one of the world's most pervasive operating systems," thanks to an estimated total of 157 million iOS devices sold to date at the end of calendar year 2010.

He also expects Apple to turn on its massive North Carolina data center soon to drive more cloud-based services. Cihra noted that Apple increased its capital expenditures more than 100 percent in fiscal year 2010, driven by non-retail store costs.

Apple plans to increase its capital expenses another 55 percent year over year in fiscal year 2011, when the company has said it will spend about $4 billion. Part of that will go toward Apple's massive retail expansion plans in 2011, with 40 to 50 new stores expended to account for about $600 million.