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Apple seen unloading new MacBook Pros and (possibly) iMacs at WWDC

With new product expectations weighing in its favor, Apple Inc. at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference will complement a showing of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard with new MacBook Pros and quite possibly new iMacs, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Previewing the annual developers conference for investors, PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster on Wednesday dismissed rumors of an iPhone launch at the traditionally Mac-focused event but said new versions of the company's professional MacBook Pro notebooks are a near certainty.

MacBook Pros and iMacs

"While there may be rumors of an iPhone launch at WWDC, we expect Apple will host a separate event in late June to launch the device. But Apple will not fail to deliver new products at WWDC," he wrote. "Apple has announced that a full-featured version of OSX 10.5 Leopard will be demonstrated and handed out at the event. This means that we will finally see how Apple will integrate Windows operability into Leopard."

Munster added that he "expects" new MacBook Pros (1, 2) to make a showing at the developer conference and that it's "also possible" that Apple will introduce a redesigned iMac. He notes that on average, the Cupertino-based company has updated its professional notebooks every 182 days, with the most recent generation having launched 209 days ago (data presumably gathered via help from the MacRumors buyer's guide). Similarly, he said, iMacs have traditionally seen updates every 168 days but the current generation is now a whopping 257 days old.

No iPhone delay

Within weeks of WWDC, Apple will also launch iPhone. Due to the hype surrounding the device, the analyst acknowledged that there have been rumors of delays. However, he says he has confirmed with Apple that the launch will indeed take place in late June, and sees no reason why the company would fail to deliver.

"The iPhone launch is set to be one of the largest product launches in company history," wrote Munster. "Both Apple and AT&T stores will sell the device (nearly 2,000 combined storefronts) and both companies will sell iPhone on their websites."

He added that, initially, he expects lead times (estimated wait for delivery) for the iPhone through Apple's online store to be about 2-4 weeks.

How will investors react?

In his report to investors on Wednesday, the PiperJaffray analyst also took a detailed look at the closing price of Apple shares before and after launch events such as Macworld and WWDC. He was expecting the maxim "buy on rumors, sell on news" to hold up alongside a pattern where Apple shares were sold-off after the much-hyped events.

"But instead, we found that historically it has been beneficial to own shares of Apple heading into and out of launch events," the analyst explained. "Apple consistently delivers, and investors respond positively."

Specifically, by using the closing price the day before events as a base, Munster found that shares of Apple have risen an average of 1 percent the day of an event, and rise 3 percent in the week after the event. Using the closing price the week before events as a base, shares of Apple have risen 6 percent on average between the week before and the week after an event, he said.

Munster maintains an Outperform rating on shares of Apple with a price target of $140 per share.