Analysts at Needham & Co. see the temporary iMac drought as representing a buying opportunity for Apple stock, the company said in a research report released this morning.

Analysts Charles Wolf and Justin Udelhofen said: "Near-term weakness presents an excellent buying opportunity, because the issue is one of supply, not demand". Needham & Co "reiterates" its 'buy' rating on the company's stock.

Observing the situation, the analysts say: "The bad news is that Apple stopped production of its current iMac in the expectation that it would ship the new model sooner than this."

While it accepts that having no iMacs to offer for sale through August may impact slightly against Apple's bottom-line (an estimated impact of 5 cents per share on Apple's EPS), the analysts state: "This is an outstanding buying opportunity".

"First, it’s a supply, not a demand issue. What’s important is that the new model will be available for the Christmas selling season.

"This would be a non-event if Apple had not stop production of its current iMac," they report.

"The underlying good news is that Apple will introduce a new redesigned iMac. We were previously uncertain as to the timing."

However, the analysts encourage Apple to maintain its aggressiveness on price: "The critical issue will be the new model’s price. Apple must drive the entry-level iMac price below $1,000 from $1,200 currently if it hopes to capture Windows users who have bought an iPod and our now considering the purchase of a Mac," they warn.