Wall Street pegs 4% slide in Mac sales, 6% boost to iPad

Apple releases second-quarter numbers later today, but experts expect third-consecutive contraction of company's computer sales

Mac sales fell 4% in the quarter that ended June 30, putting Apple into the same leaky boat as the much larger, problem-plagued PC industry, according to a survey of several dozen financial analysts.

Apple will disclose its second-quarter numbers later today.

According to Fortune, which regularly collects estimates from dozens of institutional and independent analysts, their average prediction for Mac sales was 3.85 million machines, down 4.1% from the more than 4 million sold in the same quarter of 2012.

The analysts estimated iPhone sales at 27.2 million for the quarter, up almost 5% from 2012, and their average of 18.1 million iPads was 6% higher than sales last year.

Some, of course, were more optimistic than others. Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, for example, stuck with his earlier projection of 28 million iPhones, but in a note to clients Monday said he was lowering his iPad estimates from 15.9 million to 14.5 million, on the low side of the analysts' average. White also cut his Mac forecast from 4.2 million to 3.8 million, more in line with the consensus.

"Given the soft macro environment, muted iPad trends and uncertainty around the exact impact of new iPhone launches in the September quarter, we are lowering our 4QFY13 projections," said White in the note, referring to Apple's fourth fiscal quarter, which ends Sept. 30 and is thus the third on the calendar.

White's revised iPad number, if accurate, would result in 15% year-over-year downturn for Apple's tablet business.

But White was bullish about the final quarter of the year -- and beyond -- citing what he called "a major product cycle" over the next year to year-and-a-half.

"We remain confident that Apple is on track to meet the three phases for a sustainable stock recovery that we first outlined in March," White wrote, ticking off opportunities he saw for Apple if it, as he expects, launches a lower-priced iPhone this year and moves into television and wearable computing devices -- the latter dubbed "iWatch" -- in 2014.

If, as most experts anticipate, Apple did sell fewer Macs in the just-ended second quarter than the same period the year prior, it would be the third consecutive quarter of contraction. While that's slightly better than the PC industry overall, which has declined five straight quarters, it would make clear that Apple is not immune to the trend of dampened computer sales, attributed to everything form uncertain economies to the substitution of tablets for personal computer purchases.

Apple will stream audio of the earnings call from its website starting at 5 p.m. ET today.

This article, Wall Street pegs 4% slide in Mac sales, 6% boost to iPad, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Wall Street pegs 4% slide in Mac sales, 6% boost to iPad" was originally published by Computerworld.

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