Apple Inc. has a confident fan in Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
Munster is so certain Verizon Wireless will have the iPhone in 2011 that hes making some seriously bold predictions in his coverage of Apple. First, Munster has included Verizon in his Apple sales estimates for next year. He estimates Verizon will sell 9 million iPhones (a number that strikes many observers as conservative).
Second, Munster has pumped up his target price for Apple stock to $438. Thats a far cry from current prices. For example, as of 12:56 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, shares of Apple were trading at $320.12. The iPhone makers 52-week high stands at $325.06.
In a client memo, Munster said hes assuming Verizon will launch the iPhone in early- to mid-next year.
While we do not know the timing of the launch we have modeled it to occur midway through the March 11 quarter,” he added.
Verizon, of course, would not confirm whether or when the iPhone will hit its network. Rumors have flown for weeks that Verizon, the nations largest wireless operator, finally will get the much-coveted smartphone sometime next year. But earlier this week, some speculation pinned the iPhones Verizon arrival just after Christmas.
That doesnt seem likely, especially as Verizon prepares to launch its 4G network throughout the country. If Verizon is lucky, Apple will release an LTE-compatible iPhone. But that probably wont happen its best to stick to expectations for a CDMA iPhone.