Early Holiday Read Upbeat for Apple, HP, Seagate

Includes: AAPL, HPQ, STX, WDC
by: Eric Savitz

The early read on Black Friday sales is upbeat for hardware makers Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Seagate (NASDAQ:STX), analysts report this morning.

Goldman Sachs hardware analyst David Bailey writes that retail checks over the weekend “provide further evidence” that Apple, HP, Seagate and Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) “are having strong consumer quarters to finish out the year.” Bailey writes that “numerous” visits to big box retailers and Apple stores over the weekend found several key trends:

  • Apple will have “multiple winners once again this holiday season,” with Macs “a particular standout.”
  • Notebook demand continues to build, with HP the main beneficiary.
  • Hard drives the hot PC accessory this season.
  • Printers remain an afterthought, but pricing and promotions are less aggressive than in previous years, with HP remaining the leader “by a wide margin.”

J.P. Morgan’s Bill Shope writes that a team of 10 analysts from his firm hit 49 retail stores over the weekend. Among their findings:

  • Demand stable, but overall traffic “seemed a little lighter than last year.”
  • Consumers were “flocking toward lower priced items more than in prior years,” with digital cameras, game consoles, GPS devices and gaming peripherals hot sellers.
  • Apple iPod demand “appeared solid.” PC and printer demand was strong early in the day Friday, then fell off “more rapidly than in years past.”
  • Apple store traffic was “exceptional.” Mac sales “seemed to be much stronger than in prior years.”

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster
and team spent six hours monitoring traffic at Apple retail stores in the Midwest and East coast. Here’s some of what he found:

  • 27% of people walking within 25 feet of an Apple store actually went inside.
  • Friday afternoon, 462 people entered Apple stores per hour. Saturday evening, 241 people entered Apple stores per hour.
  • During 50 hours of retail checks, Apple stores averaged sales of 5.3 Macs per hour, and 1 iPhone per hour. This compared to 4.3 Macs per hour and 1.3 iPhones per hour in an
    August store check.
  • In his six hours of tracking, iPods sales were 46% Nanos, 19% Classics, 19% Shuffles, 16% Touches.

Monday morning:

  • Apple is up $3.41, or 1.99%, to $174.95
  • Seagate is up 85 cents, or 3.4%, at $25.85.
  • Western Digital is up 98 cents, or 3.9%, at $26.37.
  • HP is off 19 cents, or 0.4%, at $48.98.