Analyst: Mac sales up 30% this quarter

Sales of Macintosh computers continue to grow year-to-year, but their rate of growth is slowing, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster reported Monday in a note issued to clients.

Based on data released at midday by the NPD Group, Munster estimates that Apple will sell 2.8 to 2.9 million Macs and 11 million iPods in its fourth fiscal quarter, which ends Sept. 30.

The Mac numbers represent year-to-year unit growth of 29% to 34%, somewhat higher than the Street’s estimate of 25%, but down considerably from the 43% year-to-year growth the Mac racked up in July.

Munster offers two reasons why Mac sales decelerated in August:

  1. The Macs product line is overdue for a refresh. “The portables are late in their product lifecycles,” he writes, but adds that he expects new MacBooks in October or November. (A report last week set a date for their arrival: Oct. 14.)
  2. The weak consumer environment is “negatively impacting Apple’s business,” something that’s not likely to get better soon given the events of this past weekend. (See here.)

Munster’s estimate of 11 million iPods for the quarter represents a year-to-year increase of 8%, considerably less than the double- and triple-digit growth of recent years, but comfortably ahead of the Street’s 6%. “Given concerns regarding iPod weakness,” Munster writes, “we believe the segment’s outperformance relative to Street expectations is a positive.”

Plugging the latest data into his spreadsheet, Munster makes some predictions about what Apple (AAPL) is likely to report in October when it releases its fourth-quarter earnings:

  • Unit sales of 2.9 million Macs, 11 million iPods, and 4.1 million iPhones
  • Gross margin of 32%, a shade higher than the 31.5% guidance Apple offered last quarter
  • Earnings per share of $1.19 (versus guidance of EPS $1.00)
  • Revenues of $8.5 billion (versus guidance of $7.8 billion)
Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.