Apple (AAPL) shares made a quick u-turn Monday, as investors digested the company's first-day sales report on its highly touted iPad.
Shares of Apple opened at $234.98, down from its previous close of $235.97, after the company issued a report that it sold more than 300,000 iPads in the U.S. during its Saturday launch. That's roughly half of the number that Wall Street analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray had expected, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
But after investors recovered from their initial shock, they apparently reconsidered. It may have to do with the fact that on its first day of sales, Apple is nearly a third of the way in making good on several analysts' forecasts, which call for the company to sell slightly more than 1 million iPads in its first three months of sales.
Bill Shope, a Credit Suisse analyst, said in a late March report that he expected Apple to sell 1.08 million iPads in its June quarter. Samuel Wilson, a JMP Securities analyst, said prior to the iPad launch that he expected between 500,000 to 1 million iPads to be sold in the quarter.
But in updating his earlier report on Sunday, Shope bumped up his June quarter estimate to 1.1 million units and noted that his estimate was "very achievable, with upside likely," pointing to strong demand and an easing of supply constraints that have previously tempered Apple's sales.
That said, Shope was also short on his first day estimates of 400,000 to 500,000 units, which he deemed "conservative." Shope's report came out in advance of Apple's first-day sales announcement.
Baked into the 300,000+ iPad sales were pre-order sales, deliveries to other channel partners like Best Buy, and at its own Apple stores -- a grouping similar to that used by analysts in sizing up sales.
But the real question for investors is whether Apple will be able to maintain iPad sales momentum going forward. Investors should keep a keen eye on the foot-traffic going in and out of Apple's stores in the next several weeks, gauging whether interest remains high and the stores are hopping, or if it dies out quickly like a flash flood.
Said Wilson: "Two or three weeks is a good snapshot of how good this thing will be."
During early morning trading, Apple's stock rebounded back reaching as high as $238.25.
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