Apple WWDC: Expect Upside, Few Surprises

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Even though the eagerly anticipated iPhone 5 and Apple TV are unlikely to materialize at Apple's ( AAPL) Worldwide Developers' Conference this week, investors could still see positive signs for the tech giant's stock.

" The 'sell in May and go away' axiom ends early for Apple investors," noted FBR Capital Markets analyst Scott Thompson, in a note released on Friday. "WWDC is a catalyst for shares."

The iPhone maker has already promised to highlight software at this year's WWDC and looks set to unveil a new version of its iOS operating system, which could include a new map app and tighter integration with Facebook ( FB).

There could also be some new hardware on show, with the blogosphere rife with rumors about new Mac offerings.

"Although an announcement about an iTV product, or even an iPhone 5, is tough to predict, we are fairly confident that a MacBook (Air and Pro) refresh announcement is likely," added Thompson. "We recommend that investors build positions in Apple ahead of the WWDC, and we believe that now is the right time to play Apple before new product catalysts provide support for richer valuations."

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu thinks that despite all the recent rumors about Macs with retina displays and Intel ( INTC) Ivy Bridge chip upgrades, the real game changer at WWDC will be software.

"While a lot of anticipation and focus has been on potential new hardware announcements including new Macs, we believe the bigger news could be around new iOS and OS X software features including enhanced Maps and photo sharing," he added, in a note. "We continue to believe that Apple is positioned to outperform in this tough macroeconomic environment."

Apple shares have climbed more than 43% this year to their current level around $580. In April they breached the $600 mark for the first time in history.

TheStreet will be live-blogging the WWDC keynote, starting at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Monday:

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The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm has often used WWDC as the launch pad for new hardware, unveiling the iPhone 4 in 2010, the iPhone 3GS in 2009 and the iPhone 3G in 2008.

Last year, however, despite rumors swirling about a new iPhone, Steve Jobs used WWDC to showcase the company's iCloud. Apple fanboys had to wait another four months for the launch of the iPhone 4S.

Investors, though, clearly got over the shock of a hardware-free WWDC. Apple's shares rose almost 9% between the June developer event and the iPhone 4S debut in October, compared to a broader slump in the tech sector that saw the Nasdaq tumble 12%.

ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall will also be looking out for updates on key product metrics when Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage to present his keynote on Monday.

"We expect metrics provided this year will be supportive of our estimates of 140 million iPhones, 64 million iPads and 19 million Macs in calendar year 2012," he explained, in a note.

Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones, 11.8 million iPads, and 4 million Macs during its recent fiscal second quarter.

What do you think Apple will announce at WWDC? Take TheStreet's WWDC poll and tell us.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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