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Fall Mac shipments up 21%, sales of 3M projected for quarter

New retail sales data shows that Mac sales were up 21 percent year-over-year in the months of October and November, positioning Apple for a potentially strong December to close out 2009.

New data from the NPD Group was acquired by analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. In a note to investors issued Monday afternoon, Munster said he still believes that Mac sales for the quarter will be between 2.9 million and 3 million. But, he said, much can change because roughly 50 percent of all Mac sales for the quarter occur in the month of December.

November was the first full month of sales for the new Macs, which debuted in October. Desktop Mac sales alone were up 74 percent year over year in October and November, while portable Macs saw a 5 percent increase.

"While it remains early, it appears the new iMacs are driving Mac sales in the Dec. quarter," Munster said, "and we are incrementally more confident in slight unit upside in the Dec. quarter."

If Mac sales hold strong, Apple could be looking at yet another record quarter for sales. In the September frame, the company sold 3.05 million Macs, helping its profits rise to $1.67 billion. That was a 17 percent year-over-year increase in sales.

NPD data also shows that iPod sales for October and November are down 11 percent year-over-year. That would place overall sales for the quarter at between 19 million and 20 million. Again here, Munster notes that it is too early to call, as more than half of all iPods sold in the quarter are during the month of December.

Piper Jaffray has maintained its overweight rating for AAPL stock, with a price target of $277.