Merrill Lynch Keeps Near Term Neutral Rating on Apple

Analyst sees no brighter-than-expected outlook for the personal computer maker despite interesting announcements at Macworld

Merrill Lynch is keeping its near term neutral investment rating on Apple Computer (AAPL ), saying that its near to medium term outlook on the personal computer company is no brighter than previously thought.

Analyst Steven Fortuna said he maintains his stance on the company despite some interesting announcements by Apple at the Macworld conference and a solid display of exciting technology.

Fortuna remains negative on more consumer-focused PC names, such as AAPL, given the weakness in market and the likelihood that the malaise will continue. For fiscal year 2001 (Sept.), Fortuna remains well below Street estimates for both top and bottom line. Fortuna sees fiscal year 2001 loss per share of $0.65 on sales of $5.0 billion.

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