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Take Your Position: Apple


Tech investors are keeping a close eye on Apple earnings. Considering the recent surprises, it’s no wonder.

Of course, investors were stunned last week when the firm announced that its chief Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence until June because of health problems "more complex" than thought.

Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, dropped his bombshell in a cryptic announcement – about a week after he soothed jumpy investors by saying his dramatic weight loss over the past seven months was due to an easily treatable hormone imbalance. He had promised to remain at the helm throughout his treatment.

Are more surprises in store when Apple releases earnings on Wednesday? For insight we turned to one of the most followed Apple analysts on the Street.

Apple Earnings Preview

Gene Munster's Analysis

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster tells Fast Money the only surprises in store for Wednesday – are good ones! “Apple’s performance in December not only saved the quarter – but may have propelled earnings beyond Wall Street projections,” he says.

Want the specifics? Munster’s got them. He tells Fast Money that 19 - 20 million iPods shipped during the quarter, beating the Street’s 18.6 million expectation; while 2.6 million iMacs shipped, in line with the Street’s 2.5 million expectation.

“We weren’t expecting these improvements,” adds Munster. “This is a nice surprise. We’re buyers going into the quarter.”

Other Analysis

Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes is almost as bullish on Apple. In a research note, Reitzes recently said, “We are not expecting top-line upside but we do believe Apple will get bottom line support from margins.” He likes the stock as a long-term growth story.

And on the other side of the coin, RBC is somewhat bearish. They downgraded Apple stock to Underperform from Sector Perform and lowered their target to $70 from $125.

What do you think? Tell us now!

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Trader disclosure: On Jan. 20th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (C), (BAC), (TM), (SDS); Adami Owns (AGU), (C), (BTU), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Seymour Owns (AA), (AAPL), (BAC), (F), (EEM), (FXI), (TSO); Najarian Owns (MS), (PALM) ; Najarian Owns (EEM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) Short Calls & Short Put Spread; Najarian Owns (NVLS) Calls; Najarian Owns (XME) Long Calls; Najarian Owns (IYR) Puts

Disclosures for Gene Munster: Piper Jaffray makes a market in the securities of the following companies, and will buy and sell the securities of these companies on a principal basis: (APPL), (AMZN), (BIDU), (EBAY), (FMCN), (GOOG), (GSIC), (IACI), (MCHX), (PRTS), (SINA), (SOHU), (SYMC), (VCLK), (WWWW), (YHOO) with wires