Apple to sell record 2 million Macs this quarter, says firm

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With Apple having announced its new iMac line on Tuesday, analysts for RBC Capital Markets say they're confident the company will ship a record 2 million Mac systems during the current quarter ending September.

"Updated iMacs further affirm our outlook for stronger Mac/iPhone momentum [over the next two quarters], based on forecasts from RBC's Technology Adoption Panel, with 2.0 million Macs expected [during the current September quarter]," lead analyst Mike Abramsky told clients in a research note Wednesday.

For Apple, such sales would represent a more than two-fold increase in fiscal fourth quarter Mac sales over the same period just three years ago. During the September quarter of 2004, the Cupertino-based firm managed to sell just over 800,000 systems, which pales in comparison its current momentum in the PC business.

In speaking to clients, Abramsky said he expects the Mac maker's worldwide share of the personal computer market to rise from 2.4 percent to 3.3 percent by the end of next year, adding that each 0.25 percent of share increase would equate to approximately $700 million in additional quarterly revenue (or $0.11 per share).

Combined with the ongoing iPhone publicity and its 'iPod with a Mac' promotion, the analyst contended that Apple's latest round of iMacs and consumer-oriented media software also signal a "strong push" against longtime rival Microsoft during the back-to-school buying season.

"Apple's iMac update targets the sole of the home and student market, a key battleground for Microsoft switchers, and potential subsequent premium upgraders," he wrote.

In his note to clients Wednesday, the RBC analyst also reported on his latest round of Apple and AT&T retail checks, which "suggests that iPhone demand/sales momentum remains steady."

"We are reiterating our iPhone outlook for 13.4 million units [by the end of 2008]," he wrote.

RBC Capital Markets also reiterated its Outperform rating and $175 price target on shares of Apple.