Apple Analysts Knock the Stuffing Out of March iPhone Sales Estimates

January 12, 2016, 3:35 PM UTC
Apple Store Logo London 2006
LONDON - DECEMBER 27: People are seen behind the Apple logo in Apple's flagship London retail store on Regent Street on December 27, 2006 in London, England. With many stores open for the first time since Christmas Eve, bargain hunters are searching for the best buys as the post-Christmas sales get under way. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Photograph by Scott Barbour — Getty Images

Two weeks from today, Apple will announce how many iPhones the company sold in the December quarter—the biggest quarter of the year for the company’s most important product (66% of fiscal 2015 revenue).

But Wall Street has already moved on to March.

Spooked by warnings from Asian smartphone parts suppliers, at least 17 Apple analysts over the past four weeks have lowered their iPhone estimates for the current quarter, which ends on March 26.

First out of the box was Katy Huberty. I haven’t kept track of every change made since then, but you can see from the spreadsheet below that the targets moved after Huberty’s cut are lower than the ones set before—roughly 11% lower.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 11.04.59 AM


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Apple (AAPL) shares before Dec. 13 were trading above $113. By last week, they were trading below $97—which is to say at a 15% discount from an already depressed price. At this point, the anticipated damage from March has probably been baked into the stock. Overnight, Bank of America (BAC) upgraded Apple from Neutral to Buy, and the stock opened Tuesday up nearly 2% from Monday’s close.

There’s still a lingering concern on Wall Street—where year-over-year growth rates are closely watched—that Apple is facing a “tough compare” in the first half of 2016, as it struggles to beat sales records set by the first generation of jumbo iPhones. In October, Tim Cook told analysts that the company was on track to set a new record in the December quarter. He hasn’t said anything about about the March quarter, and he probably won’t before Apple releases its fiscal Q1 2016 earnings report and offers guidance for Q2.

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Apple’s Jan. 26 conference call with analysts will be webcast live. You can tune in here.

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