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Apple on pace to sell record 5.3M Macs in holiday quarter

Apple is set to have another blockbuster quarter for the Mac platform, with the latest sales data showing the company headed toward selling as many as 5.3 million over the holidays.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray shared the latest domestic sales data from the NPD Group on Monday, which showed Mac sales up 19 percent year over year in the month of October. As sales continue to pick up leading up to Christmas, he sees Apple selling between 5.1 million and 5.3 million Macs during the December quarter.

Those numbers would represent year over year growth of between 23 percent and 28 percent. Consensus on Wall Street has called for Apple to report sales of about 5.2 million Macs during the quarter.

Munster estimates that Mac revenue will represent about 18 percent of Apple's overall revenue during the company's December quarter. He sees the early NPD data as an indication that Apple is off to a steady start for the holiday season.

The latest NPD figures also show domestic iPod units were down about 18 percent year over year. That number suggests Apple is on pace to sell between 15 million and 16 million iPods during the December quarter.

The October sales are also slightly ahead of Wall Street consensus for the quarter, which calls for Apple's iPod sales to be down 20 percent year over year, reaching about 15.5 million units.

Apple's MacBook Pro lineup was quietly given a speed boost in late October.

Apple is expected to produce its best quarter ever during the 2011 holiday season, bolstered by the launch of the iPhone 4S early in the quarter. Though the iPhone now drives Apple's revenue, the Mac remains an important part of Apple's business, and the platform continues to grow.

Last quarter, the Mac had its best three-month span ever, as Apple reported sales of 4.89 million units, good for 26 percent year over year growth. Sales last quarter were boosted by the launch of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which went on sale in July.

Piper Jaffray has maintained its "overweight" rating for AAPL stock, as well as a price target of $607.