How many Macs did Apple sell? (Q1 2010)

January 5, 2010, 9:39 AM UTC

The second in a series of previews of Apple’s results for the first fiscal quarter of 2010

Click to enlarge. Source: Company reports

On Monday we sampled the Street’s expectations for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone sales in the fiscal quarter that ended on Dec. 26. (See here).

Today we look at analysts’ Q1 2010 estimates for the product that contributes more to the company’s bottom line than any other: the Mac.

As with the iPhone, there is a huge range in the unit sales numbers we’ve collected, from a high of 3.31 million from Broadpoint AmTech’s Brian Marshall to a low of 2.79 million from Technology Insights’ Nehal Chokshi. (See below the fold.)

Analyst, Affiliation Macs (millions) Date of est.
Brian Marshall, Broadpoint AmTech 3.31 1/3/10
Mark Moskowitz, J.P. Morgan 3.29 1/4/10
Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer Equity Res. 3.21 12/8/09
Ben Reitzes, Barclay’s Capital 3.20 1/7/10
Deagol, Apple Finance Board 3.18 1/3/10
Doug Reid, Thomas Weisel 3.13 12/28/09
Peter Misek, Canaccord Adams 3.10 1/3/10
Tavis McCourt, Morgan Keegan 3.10 1/13/10
Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley 3.09 1/3/10
Turley Muller, Financial Alchemist 3.00 1/4/10
Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank 2.96 11/29/09
Shaw Wu, Kauffman Brothers 2.90 12/30/09
Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray 2.86 1/6/10
Nehal Chokshi, Technology Insights 2.85 1/4/10
Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna Financial 2.79 1/6/10

(Unit sales in millions.)

. . . . . .
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has one of the lowest estimates (2.856 million), but he remains bullish on the stock. As he pointed out in a report to clients Tuesday, comparisons to the previous year’s monthly sales become a lot easier in the first half of 2010.

In the second half of 2009, Mac sales were compared with the second half of 2008, when they grew an average of 18% year over year according to data from the NPD Group. In the first half of 2010 they will be compared with the first half of 2009, when they fell an average of 1%. See Munster’s chart below:

Source: Piper Jaffray

“We see these easing comps,” writes Munster, “as a buying opportunity ahead of NPD data for the final month of the Dec. quarter on 1/18.”

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]