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Merrill Cuts Apple to 'Long Term Neutral'

Merrill Lynch maintains near term neutral on Apple Computer (AAPL), but downgraded to long term neutral from buy.

Analyst Steve Fortuna says the third quarter shortfall primarily was due to weakness in worldwide demand for its consumer PCs and professional products, as well as pronounced softness across all product lines in Europe.

Fortuna cut the $0.12 third quarter earnings per share estimate to $0.08, and trimmed the $1.6 billion revenue outlook to $1.4 billion, as well as cutting the $0.50 fiscal 2002 (Sept.) EPS to $0.40, and cutting the $6.2 billion revenue estimate to $5.8 billion.

Fortuna downgraded his long term rating due to a lack of long term visibility.

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