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Second quarter iPod sales tracking above expectations

An extrapolation of January data from market research firm NPD suggests that Apple Inc. is on track to exceed Wall Street's expectations for iPod sales during the company's second fiscal quarter of 2007 ending March.

In a research note released Wednesday afternoon, PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster told clients that his analysis of the sales data leads him to a preliminary iPod sales estimate between 11 million and 12 million units.

"The 11 million to 12 million unit range is based on various assumptions and is an extrapolation of one month of data," the analyst explained. "When the second month of data is released, our analysis will likely lead to a slightly different iPod unit figure than what our analysis suggests based on the first month of data, so we believe investors should supplement this data point with other information."

Munster's findings place iPod sales above Wall Street consensus estimates of 10.9 million units, as well as his own forecast of 10.3 million units.

Analysts as a whole have been expecting a steep seasonal decline in sales of the iconic digital music players following Apple's blowout holiday quarter.

During the three-month period ending December, the Cupertino-based company sold a whopping 21 million units, the most ever in a single quarter.