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About 18% of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock value is attributable to the company’s Macintosh (Mac) computer business. Mac notebooks are the most valuable component of the Mac business, constituting about 8% of Apple’s stock. In comparison, we estimate that the iPad constitutes about 4% of the $267 Trefis price estimate for Apple’s stock.

We estimate that there could be $15 (6%) downside to Apple’s stock if iPad sales were to eventually cannibalize about half of Mac notebook sales. Such a scenario could materialize if the majority of prospective Mac notebook buyers are primarily content consumers rather than content creators.

Content Consumption vs. Content Creation

Many of the initial reviews of the iPad have emphasized its similarity with a notebook computer and how the iPad could be a replacement for a notebook for someone that is primarily interested in consuming content (websites, videos, photos). Even light content creation (e-mail, basic word processing) is easy to do on the iPad.

For more serious content creators like writers, programmers and graphic designers, the iPad is not yet a sufficient substitute for a Mac notebook. The mix of content consumers versus content creators, as well as the price differential between the iPad and Macs, will be important determinants of whether or not the iPad will meaningfully cannibalize Mac notebook sales.

Cannibalization has been an issue for Apple in the past. The iPhone has cannibalized a significant portion of iPod sales and we estimate that today the iPhone constitutes about 50% of Apple’s stock compared to only 3% for the iPod.

4 million iPads vs. 8 million Mac Notebooks

We estimate that Apple will sell about 4 million iPads in 2010 and that this will increase to over 12 million by the end of the Trefis forecast period.

In comparison, we estimate that Apple will sell 8.5 million Mac notebooks in 2010, which represents 5.4% market share in the global notebook PC market. We estimate that Mac notebook sales will increase to about 21 million Mac notebooks sold by the end of the Trefis forecast period, representing 8.7% market share.

Potential 6% Downside to Trefis Estimate for Apple’s Stock

If a significant portion of Mac notebook buyers are primarily content consumers rather than content creators, Mac notebook cannibalization from the iPad could be significant. If half of iPad sales were to come at the expense of Mac notebook sales, then our 21 million Mac notebook sales estimate would be overstated significantly.

By decreasing our Mac notebook market share forecast to about 4% by the end of our forecast period, you can see how there could be a $15 (6%) downside to our $267 Trefis price estimate for Apple’s stock.

For additional analysis and forecasts, here is our complete model for Apple’s stock.

Disclosure: No positions.