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Piper Jaffray reduces December quarter iPod estimate

Investment bank Piper Jaffray on Tuesday reduced its fiscal first quarter iPod sales estimate for Apple Inc. by approximately 2 million units in light of preliminary sales data that suggests December month sales fell slightly short of expectations.

"We have analyzed all three months of NPD data (Oct., Nov. & Dec.) for the quarter and found that it now suggests iPod units of 24 million to 25 million," analyst Gene Munster wrote in research note to clients.

He now estimates the Cupertino-based firm to announce sales of approximately 23.5 million iPods as part of its fiscal first quarter earnings report later Tuesday, which is below both Street consensus estimates of 24.7 million and his previous estimate of between 25 million and 26 million.

"We see this as a neutral data point," Munster wrote. "Bottom line: we continue to expect Apple to report a strong December quarter driven by in-line iPod results and outperformance in the Mac segment.

The analyst made no other changes to his model, maintaining a Buy rating and $250 price target on shares of the electronics company.