Apple ( AAPL) may soon add more juice to Best Buy ( BBY). The electronics retailer plans to nearly double the number of stores that sell Apple's Mac computers, according to UBS. Based on conversations with Best Buy executives at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, UBS analysts said the retail giant plans to expand its Mac sales to 500 stores in the coming year. Best Buy currently sells Macs in about 270 stores and is a leading seller of iPods in all 900 of its stores, according to UBS. The news comes a day after Best Buy Chief Executive Brad Anderson, speaking at the conference, predicted tougher times ahead in retail. Apple is a big win for Best Buy, as the company's computer line continues to gain popularity and steal market share from big PC players like Dell ( DELL) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ). Demand for new Macs remains strong despite a slumping U.S. economy and a slowdown in consumer spending, say UBS and other Apple watchers. However, sales of the red-hot iPod are starting to cool a bit after a huge run. UBS blames the post-holiday season for the slowdown in iPod sales, though others point to the rise of the music phone. Tech eyes are eagerly awaiting next week, when Apple chief Steve Jobs gives his annual MacWorld speech. Apple is expected to unveil an ultra-portable notebook computer and possibly a revamp of some of its laptop line-up.
But even Apple seems to have some anxiety about the economy. Last week, an analyst covering Catcher, a supplier of magnesium shells for some iPod models, said Apple has
cut orders amid concerns about consumer spending. Best Buy shares have fallen 15% so far this year, and were down 74 cents to $44.90 in premarket trading Wednesday. Apple, which has taken a beating during the tech sell off, is down 13% for the year, but was up 71 cents to $171.96 in the pre-market action.