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Apple to Unveil New or Updated Laptops on Oct 14

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc will unveil its updated laptops on October 14 and they may cost less, but analysts say the company’s drooping stock has already taken any change into account.

“I think it’s already factored into the stock. People have been expecting this announcement for well over a month,” said Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities in Oregon.

The company’s stock was up 1 percent at $90.64 in midday trading, but closed down 1 percent at $88.74 and, overall, it has lost about 56 percent of its value since closing at a year high of $202.96 on December 27, 2007.

Apple enters the fourth quarter against a background of continuing headlines about falling stocks and failing banks, and a September in which retail sales dived beyond expectations.

At minimum, Apple will use the event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters to refresh its laptop line by updating to the latest chips and it may also offer new designs.

The Apple invitation said only: “The spotlight turns to notebooks.” Occasionally, Apple unveils revolutionary new approaches at such events, but analysts shrugged when asked about the possibility.

“You won’t know that until the day of the event,” said Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies in Campbell, California.

Analysts also raised the possibility of a drop in the sticker price for laptops that now start at $1,099, more than twice the cost of the cheapest of the Window-based laptops.

Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer opened the door to speculation as long ago as July 21 during a discussion of the company’s computer line.

The executive said the company introduces “new products that initially cost more because they deliver an entirely new level of value to the customer. Then we ride the cost curves down with value engineering and volume manufacturing, leaving us far ahead of our competitors.”

Bajarin was cautious and stopped short of forecasting price cuts.

“It’s a possibility. We don’t know that for sure,” he said.

He said Apple emphasizes design and functionality, “but clearly they have become more price conscious as they have become more competitive.”

Copyright 2008 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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