Apple Watch Gains Holiday Sales Momentum

By Jennifer BootonMarketWatch Pulse

Apple Inc.'s watch is gaining sales momentum with the official start of the holiday shopping season, said Dan Ives, an analyst at FBR & Co. The analyst reiterated an outperform rating on the stock Friday afternoon and said store checks at various Apple, Target and Best Buy locations on Black Friday morning revealed "growing interest" in Apple Watch. "While supply constraints/a choppy launch period have caused stumbles out of the gates," he said in a note to clients, "we have slowly seen momentum in the field over the last few months." FBR expects Apple to sell between 5 million and 6 million units in December alone, compared with the roughly 6 million it has sold overall in the roughly six months since its late-April launch, according to FBR's estimates. While the watch is dwarfed by the iPhone, Mac and iPad in terms of overall sales, Ives said its success is important to Apple because it represents one of the company's major avenues of growth - in this case, wearable computing -- over the next decade. "Watch sales are being closely watched into the holiday season as a barometer for future growth/product areas," he said. Shares of Apple closed down 0.2% to $117.81 on Friday on unusually low volume. The market closed at 1 p.m. ET.

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