Apple's Mac Strategy Spells Upside

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL), which holds its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow, is enjoying healthy dollar growth in its Mac business, according to analyst firm Needham & Company.

"Apple's discipline in holding Mac prices fairly steady in the face of plunging Windows PC prices translated into dollar share gains in the December quarter," wrote analyst Charles Wolf in a note released Wednesday. "The Apple story could contain an upside surprise if the Mac can sustain the relative growth rates it sustained in the September and December quarters."

According to Wolf, Macs accounted for 10.5% of total dollars spent on home PCs worldwide during the December quarter, up from just under 4% in the fourth quarter of 2004. Apple's performance in the U.S. home market was even more impressive -- it holds almost 20% of the dollar share.

With a unit share of 5% and nearly 10% respectively in the worldwide PC and U.S. markets, Apple's dollar growth bodes well for the tech bellwether's results in 2010. In an improving IT spending climate, Apple is well positioned to protect its margins and boost revenue, which grew more than 30% in the first quarter.

A number of companies, notably computer makers Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Dell ( DELL), are eyeing an improving PC market, although this could be impacted by serious pricing pressure. Recent years have seen an explosion of low-cost mini-computers (netbooks), driving down prices elsewhere in the PC sector.

Recent research from online retail site revealed that the average laptop price dropped to $645 in December 2009 from $808 in December 2008, thanks largely to the advent of netbooks.

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