Apple’s 13-million iPhone weekend: What the analysts said (updated)

September 29, 2015, 7:14 PM UTC

Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray: Opening Weekend iPhone Sales At High End Of Our Expectations. Apple announced this morning that opening weekend iPhone 6S and 6S Plus sales were “more than 13 million units” compared to our expectations of 12-13 million. In 2014, the company sold 10 million units during opening weekend for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch. This year’s launch benefited from the launch in China coinciding with the broader launch. Overall, we see opening weekend results, coupled with our read on sell- through, as a sign that the iPhone 6S cycle is off to a good start and continue to be comfortable with our 3% iPhone 6S cycle unit growth compared to the Street at flat. Overweight. $172.

Daniel Ives, FBR: How About Them Apples? We view 13 million as a “bull case” number from the weekend as bears were saying 10.5 million to 11 million was possible, and this was up significantly from the 10 million units sold in the iPhone 6 first launch weekend, although this is not apples to apples as China pre-sales/launch were not included in the year-ago number. We estimate China sales during the 6s launch weekend of roughly 2 to 2.5 million, driven by exceptionally strong pre-order demand and, thus, means non-China iPhone 6s units were up roughly between 5% and 10% vs. its predecessor, a Lebron-like performance in our opinion given the high water mark set a year ago. With pre-order sales looking particularly strong out of the linchpin China region and a “white hot” launch weekend sales number announced this morning, we believe potential upside to iPhone December numbers should help remove the “China iPhone black cloud” hovering over Apple’s head despite lingering bear chatter on the name. Outperform. $175.

Jim Suva, Citigroup: We believe two factors positively influenced sales this weekend: 1) China’s inclusion this year in the first phase of the launch… 2) Apple’s own iPhone Upgrade program in the US… We believe tough comps and limited potential sales/EPS upside in the near term may cause some investors to exit the stock thereby providing an attractive entry for long term investors. Outperform. $135.

Tony Sacconaghi, Bernstein: Supply is Strong, but How About Demand? While first weekend sales of 13M is strong vs. history, it is important to note that the figure largely reflects available supply of iPhones, rather than underlying demand, and initial supply likely should have been stronger this year vs. last… The real measure of initial demand for a new iPhone is orders – Apple typically reports the number of orders it receives in the first 24 hours, but did not this year – leaving us with little to truly gauge demand relative to previous cycles… On net, we believe that it is hard to conclude from Apple’s first weekend sales whether iPhone 6S will eclipse last year’s CY Q4/FY Q1 level, which remains investors’ principal near-term focus. Outperform. $135.

Abhey Lamba, Mizuho: First Weekend’s Sales Do Not Seem Overwhelmingly Positive. We note that of the 13mm shipped over the weekend, only two days’ sales (Friday and Saturday) will be included in the September quarter as Apple ended its F4Q15 on Sep 26. As such, we think about 5-7mm units from the sales will contribute to the December quarter whereas all of the first weekend’s sales were included in the September quarter last year. Secondly, Apple intends to ship the new phones to ~130 countries by year- end versus 115 last year. As such, we think distribution expansion this year could help the company get past the tough compare for the December quarter but the entire 6s cycle will likely have a tough time competing against tough compares, which could start impacting growth rates starting with the March quarter. Neutral. $125.

Kulbinder Garcha, Credit Suisse: Growing installed base supports growth next year. Our installed base analysis continues to point to iPhone growth ahead. With a record number of users switching to the iOS platform this year, the iPhone installed base has seen strong growth. Additionally, with Apple’s new installment plan, we believe Apple may be able to keep its replacement rate at around 29 months next year, about 1 month faster than its historical rate, giving us confidence that our 234mn/241mn estimate in CY15/CY16 could prove conservative. Outperform. $145.

Keith Bachman, BMO: Record Weekend. Supply appears healthy for iPhone 6s on a global basis, but much more limited for the 6s Plus. Many stores have very limited supply of the iPhone 6s Plus. Apple stores in Japan seem to be sold out of everything… We currently project iPhone units of around 47 million in the September quarter and 72 million in the December quarter, though our September quarter estimate could prove conservative given the record sales in the first weekend. We believe Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program will benefit iPhone sales in the long-term including CY2016, but less so in the December quarter given that a large portion of the installed base is still under traditional two-year contracts. Consistent with our past comments, we believe that two-thirds of iPhone sales in CY2016 will be generated from upgrades and one-third from new users. Outperform. $145.

Timothy Arcuri, Cowen: Strong Results, But Less Rosy Than First Look. Following our checks in Asia, we continue to see a downside bias to Street iPhone units in particular for CQ4 and CQ1:16 as our field work supports a build of mid 40MM units for CQ3 and mid-70MM for CQ4, meaning sell-through is likely a little below these levels (see Highlights From Asia Trip and Building Blocks To Continue The Good Life). Moreover, the supply chain has historically seen some upside revision to builds around the launch weekend; this year we have seen no signs of such revisions even going back to our contacts over the weekend. Market perform. $130.

Amit Daryanani, RBC: Will Apple Grow in December? We think YES, as we expect AAPL to ship 75-80M iPhone units in Dec-qtr. A data point that gives us conviction is – the Calendar. Effectively, this year AAPL will have 2 days of iPhone 6s/6s Plus revenues in Sept-qtr (vs. 9 days of new phones last year in Sept-qtr). At minimum given extended lead-times for 6s Plus, this should add 2-2.5M units in Dec-qtr ($2.0B revenue). Net/Net: An incremental positive that enables better compares for Dec-qtr and enable AAPL to exceed investor fears and show iPhone unit sales of 75-80M in Dec-qtr. Outperform. $150.

Ananda Baruah, Brean Capital: Potential For A New iPhone Form-Factor In The Spring. We believe that iPhone “tension” likely lies to the upside for our Dec Q estimate of 72M (we could see as high as 80M). That said, we believe the next true elongated stock “move” will be determined by what CY16 iPhone ships can look like, and the Street likely won’t have a view on that until April when AAPL reports the Mar Q. We continue to believe that Street numbers are materially low through ’17. Fundamentally speaking, we believe AAPL stands to deliver material EPS upside from 1) iPhone shipments through ’17, 2) favorable GM from both iPhones and iPhone mix (more 6 Plus’ than realized), and 3) materially more Opex $ leverage through at least ’16 as AAPL realizes the benefits from the recent iPhone 6 and iWatch investment cycles. Buy. $170.

That’s the lot.

Press release: Apple Announces Record iPhone 6s & iPhone 6s Plus Sales


Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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