UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-Citi adds Apple to Top Picks Live list

lunes 11 de febrero de 2008 15:08 CET

(Adds details, share movement)

Feb 11 (Reuters) - Citigroup added Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Cotización) to its Top Picks Live list, saying reductions to the company's March quarter iPod and iPhone build plans were fully reflected in its stock price, which has declined 37 percent so far this year.

Citigroup said Apple's iPod unit growth is likely to remain sluggish through the first half of 2008, but added that it sees several significant offsets such as a robust PC build plan for the March quarter and recent introduction of the MacBook Air.

Apple unveiled the MacBook Air, an aluminum-clad laptop just three-quarters of an inch thick, on Jan. 15.

The brokerage, which retained its "buy" rating on the company and has a target price of $212 on the stock, said it was comfortable with its above-consensus quarterly earnings view.

Citigroup expects Apple's earnings per share for the March quarter to beat consensus by 10 cents or more, while revenue is expected to come in line.

The launch of 3G iPhone in the current quarter or next quarter, with additional carrier relationships in Europe should give investors more confidence in Apple's target of 10 million iPhone unit shipments for 2008, Citigroup added.

Top Picks Live is a list of Citi Investment Research's highest conviction ideas through calendar year-end that was introduced in January 2008.

Apple shares were up more than 2 percent at $128.33 in trading before the bell, after closing at $125.48 Friday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Amulya Nagaraj in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)