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Apple seen selling as many as 9 million Macs in 2007

Apple Computer could sell more than 9 million computers next year if its Mac market share continues to grow at the same rate seen during the 2006 calendar year, one Wall Street analyst says.

In one of several research reports from PiperJaffray this week, analyst Gene Munster said he expects the company's share of the PC market will continue to grow in 2007 due to improved availability of Macs, an expanding footprint of customers, and the ability to run Windows on a Mac.

Apple's Mac market share in the third quarter of 2006 was 2.8 percent and will likely be around 3.0 percent for the fourth quarter, the analyst said, up from 2.1 percent in the first quarter.

"Based on several catalysts, we believe Mac market share can grow by 1 percent again in 2007, ending the year at around 4 percent, with an average for the year of 3.5 percent.," Munster wrote in a note to clients.

With an average market share of 3.5 percent for the year, Apple would sell 9.01 million Macs during the course of the year, according to the analyst's estimates. That's significantly more than Street consensus estimates of 6.95 million Macs based on an average market share of 2.7 percent.

The additional 2.06 million Macs would add more than $2.8 billion to Apple's bottom line, Munster said, making the Street's current earnings-per-share estimates for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company some $0.35, or 11.6 percent, too low.

According to IDC, Apple's current worldwide Mac market share stands at 2.8 percent.