The Apple AAPL numbers released by the NPD Group Monday were even worse than those predicted by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster last week, yet he sees them as “a neutral or a slight positive” for the stock, given the uncertainties surrounding the entire computer industry this quarter.
NPD reported Mac and iPods sales both down 16% year to year in February, according to a report issued Monday to Piper Jaffray clients.
Analysts had expected both numbers to be down (although not quite that much), given how strong sales were in February 2008 and the fact that many Mac customers were holding out for the new machines that didn’t get introduced until March 3. The Street was anticipating -4% growth in the February NPD Mac data, according to Munster.
Adding in overseas sales (which NPD does not measure), Munster now expects Apple to sell 2.0 to 2.2 million Macs by the end of the March quarter. He also estimates that the company will sell 9 to 10 million iPods in that period, in line with the Street’s consensus of 9.5 million iPods.
As he did last week (see here), Munster says he thinks Mac sales will pick up in the last month of the quarter, thanks to the shipment of new iMacs, Mac minis and Mac Pros.
He also expects iPods to sell better in March, bolstered by the new iPod shuffles unveiled last week.
Finally, addressing the iPhone 3.0 special event scheduled for 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) Tuesday, Munster says he expects “significant new features” but no new iPhone hardware. Nor does he expect Steve Jobs, who is still on medical leave, to make an appearance at the event.