Apple beat everybody's expectations, pros and amateurs. But the pros, as usual, did worse.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 28, 2015

This was like one of those quarters in the early days of the iPhone era, when Apple surprised everybody, even the most bullish amateur analysts. In this kind of quarter, the prize goes to the biggest bull and the bears just look bad.

The difference between this grande-blowout and a venti-blowout like Q1 2012 (iPhone 4S/iPad 2) is that this time there are bullish pros up there with the amateurs and bearish amateurs down below with the pros. The two groups are getting shuffled like a deck of cards.

A few performances worth noting:

  • For the second quarter in a row, Kirk Burgess of the amateur Braeburn Group has come out on top, this time both for overall accuracy and for the top and bottom lines. Someone should hire that guy — if they haven’t already.
  • Credit Suisse’s Kulbinder Garcha was right behind Burgess this quarter, the first time in my memory that a pro has dared be bullish enough to score so well in a blowout.
  • At the bottom of the deck, the huge misses by Cowan’s Timothy Arcuri and BTIG’s Walter Piecyk can be explained by timing; their estimates were made in October and November, respectively, when it wasn’t as clear how big a hit the big iPhones were going to be.
  • That excuse doesn’t work for Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty or Bernstein Toni Sacconaghi. Huberty updated her iPhone estimate on Monday. Sacconaghi did his Tuesday morning.

A bit of historical perspective. The revenue accuracy graph below shows the performance of the two groups — pros and amateurs — over time. Both have had their good quarters and bad. But at the 20-quarter mark, the amateurs are doing significantly better. They tend to overshoot on the bullish side — by 2.3% on revenue and 2.8% on EPS. The pros err by an even larger margin on the bearish side — missing revenue on average by -3.9% and EPS by -8.5%.

Below: Our annotated master spreadsheet, with the best estimates highlighted in bright green, the second and third best in light green, the worst in red and the second and third worst in pink.

Thanks once again to Posts at Eventide‘s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple AAPL coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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