J.P. Morgan sees the MacBook Air as a $3 billion business

June 16, 2011, 2:07 PM UTC

Expects average sales of Apple’s “quasi-tablet for productivity users” to hit 700,000/quarter

Photo: Apple Inc.

In early April, J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz issued a glowing report on Apple’s thinnest notebook computer in which he predicted that Apple would sell $2.2 billion worth of MacBook Airs in the next 12-18 months.

On Thursday he revised his estimates — upward. Not only did the new models released last October sell like crazy in the Christmas quarter, but according to Moskowitz, that initial runrate seems to be sustainable. MacBook Air sales grew 2.9% the following quarter, compared to a 10% quarterly drop for the rest of the PC industry.

Apple shipped 432,000 MacBook Air units in calendar Q1 2011 and Moskowitz expects that to grow to an average 700,000 units over the next four quarters. At an average selling price of $1,500, that’s $3.22 billion a year, which could tack another $0.30 on Apple’s (AAPL) earnings per share.

“In our view,” Moskowitz writes, “the MacBook Air increasingly will be recognized as offering users tablet-like functionality – ultra-portability, thinness, and instant-on – while offering an integrated keyboard and a full computing applications suite to complete professional work-related tasks. Given the underwhelming performance of the non-Apple tablets in the tablet market so far, we expect more PC vendors to shift focus to the ultra-thin notebook PC (based on SSD storage).”

Moskowitz rates the stock “Overweight” with a $450 price target. Apple opened Thursday at $326.79.