Analyst: Lion Helps Push Mac Sales Up 26% in July

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The release of OS X Lion in July helped send U.S. Mac sales up 26% year-over-year. The data comes from a preliminary report from NPD, while the assessment comes from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. The analyst told clients that Apple was on track to sell between 4.4 and 4.6 million Macs in the September quarter.

In the research note obtained by The Mac Observer, the analyst wrote, “We believe that Mac sales in the month of July benefited from new Mac products,” including the above-mentioned Lion, new MacBook Air models, and new Mac minis.

He added, “The tailwind from these releases will likely fade in the last two months of the quarter,” and said that year-over-year comparisons in the last two months of the quarter will be harder, as Apple turned in great numbers for the September quarter in 2010.

The analyst also said that he expects Apple’s MacBook Air line to account for between 10% and 20% of the company’s Mac unit sales during the quarter.

The research note also said that iPod unit shipments may come ahead of expectation. The analyst now expects iPod sales between 7.2 million and 7.7 million units, ahead of consensus Street estimates of 7 million units.

Mr. Munster maintained his “Overweight” rating on Apple’s stock, Piper Jaffray’s equivalent of a “Buy.” He also maintained his $607 price target for the stock.

Shares in AAPL closed slightly higher Monday, ending the day at US$356.44 per share, up $.41 (+0.12%), on moderate volume of 19.1 million shares trading hands.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.