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Apple's Stock Not Roaring

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Mac

Despite much ballyhoo in the media, and a Friday night retail party launching the latest version of the Mac operating system software, Apple's (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) stock price trickled up to close only 37 cents higher on Monday, or about 1% to $36.43 per share.

Compare that with Apple's performance on Feb. 23, the day it started shipping the iPod shuffle, a flash-memory-based MP3 player meant to be a less expensive alternative to its hard-drive-based iPod player. On that day, Apple's share price jumped $1.47, or about 4%.

Then there's the example of Jan. 6, the day that reliable rumors hit the market that Apple was about to introduce a flash-memory-based player, which caused Apple share prices to promptly soar by $2.34, or 7%. CEO Steve Jobs confirmed the rumors five days later on Jan. 11 during his speech at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, the day he unveiled the shuffle. Apple's share price yielded back most of its rumor-based gains on that day, dropping $2.20 to settle at $32.28.

Indeed, the last time Apple did a major upgrade to its operating system software was in October of 2003 when it released Panther. For the quarter ended March 2004, software sales jumped 53% year-over-year, but in real dollars the difference was only $83 million. The day of its release, its stock price closed up only 11 cents. Many investors no doubt recall those numbers.

Apple is mainly known for two products, the Macintosh line of computers and the iPod; the profitability of one guarantees survival for the other. In its March quarter, Apple's combined sales of laptops and desktops showed a 43% increase in unit shipments. But in real numbers that translates to a year-over-year increase of only 321,000 units. Meanwhile, iPod sales were up 558% over one year ago.

However, Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Millunovich told clients on Monday that Tiger should increase Apple's share of desktop computers sold. "Previous OS releases did not boost Apple's PC share," he said. "Based on the features of Tiger and the halo effect from the iPod, we think Apple's PC share outlook is rosier this time. He added that Tiger sales could top $100 million in the first quarter of release, compared with $60 million for Panther. And Merrill expects Apple to have 2.5% of the global PC market by the end of this year, up from 2.1% in the first quarter of this year.

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