Analyst Ups Q4 iPad Shipments to 6.3 Million

Analyst Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity has upped his forecast for iPad sales to 6.3 million units during the December quarter, up from 5 million previously. In a research note obtained by The Mac Observer, Mr. Walkley said that Apple had 47% of industry profits for mobile devices and tablets during the September quarter, and that the company will continue to do well in these markets through 2011.

“Based on continued strong sell-through trends for the iPad and iPhone,” Mr. Walkley wrote, “we believe Apple will maintain both market and value share leadership in these fast growing markets through C2012.”

To that effect, he said that checks with the channel show the iPhone 4 continues to be the top selling phone at AT&T “by far, despite the new Windows 7 smartphones and a reduction in BlackBerry Torch prices from $199 to $99.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Walkley said that he continues to expect Apple to release a CDMA iPhone for Verizon during February, and said that strong sales of the device through Big Red “could slow Android momentum.”

Rumors have persisted that Apple has developed a CDMA version of the popular iPhone 4 and that a deal with Verizon was being hammered out. On Wednesday, however, we reported that Verizon had announced its “4G” LTE network, and that it expected the first LTE smartphone to hit the market in mid-2011, which is the same time frame Apple tends to announce new iPhone models.

Whether or not Apple waits for iPhone 5 to bring its platform to Verizon or introduces a mid-course CDMA iPhone 4 remains to be seen, but Mr. Walkley said that he also expects iPhone 5 to come in mid-2011.

Looking at iPad, the analyst said that Apple would maintain some 48% market share in the tablet space , and sell 26.9 million iPads during the year. ” However,” he noted, “we believe Apple’s share of profits for the tablet market will be well above 80% in both C2010 and C2011.”

He reasoned that, “Given Apple’s strong ecosystem of applications and leading tablet form factor, we believe competing tablet products will need to sell at a substantial discount of roughly $200 to effectively compete with Apple. At this level of discount, we believe competitors could struggle to reach sustainable profits.”

Canaccord Chart

Source: Canaccord Genuity

Canaccord’s price target for AAPL is $421, and the firm maintains a “Buy” rating for the stock.

Shares closed slightly higher on Thursday, ending the day at $318.15, down $1.75 (+0.55%), on moderate volume of 16.5 million shares trading hands.