Munster: Apple to Sell 2.7-2.8M Macs in Q4

In a forecast released Monday, Piper Jaffray Senior Research Analyst Gene Munster said  that based on U.S. retail sales data released by the NPD Group, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is on track to sell upwards of 2.8 million Macs and 9.5 to 10.5 million iPods in its Q4’09, a period that covers July, August, and Sept.

On the Mac performance, Munster said he expects Mac-unit growth in the range of 3% to 7% for the full quarter – roughly in line with the Street’s expectation of 5%.

Munster cautioned however, that such prognostications are fraught with peril. “With just one month of data,” Munster wrote, “it is way too early to make a call on the quarter given ~50% of Mac sales in the quarter typically happen in the month of Sept.” [Fortune].

On the iPod numbers, things aren’t looking quite so optimistic as sales are expected to continue to recede. iPod unit sales were down 17% y/y in July, according to NPD, which is worse than Muster expected. But despite the drop, Munster thinks there’s still good news to be had as he expects a “reacceleration” in September thanks to Apple’s back-to-school promotion, which offers a free iPod with the purchase of any (discounted) Mac. In addition, Apple’s international sales are growing faster than domestic for both Macs and iPods, as a result of the recession hitting a bottom in Germany, France and Japan. This factor will help boost Apple’s sales into the fourth quarter.

Bottom line: Munster sees Apple ending the quarter with iPod unit sales down 5% to 14% y/y – roughly in line with the Street’s expectations (-10%), and expects ASP figures for the entire fall quarter to be down 6% over the previous summer quarter.

One final data point: the average selling price for Macs in July was down 4% m/m, according to NPD. That’s significantly better than the rest of the industry, which have seen ASPs fall 19% y/y.

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