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Analysts find no consensus on expected fiscal Q3 iPhone, iPad sales

updated 10:33 pm EDT, Fri July 18, 2014

Roughly 14.43 million iPads, 35.88 million iPhones expected on average

With just a few days to go before the actual sales figures are revealed, analysts are at a loss to come up with a strong consensus on how many iPhones and iPads the company actually sold in the calendar second quarter, which ended June 30 (Apple refers to this as fiscal Q3). The iPad figures are even more befuddled, since last quarter's drop in iPad sales -- 16 percent year-over-year -- was explained by CEO Tim Cook as changing inventory numbers rather than an actual drop.

Analysts
Analysts' iPhone predictions


For the iPhone, Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt rounded up his usual collection of professional and investment tech analysts to collect their predictions. The result was an unusually wide swing, ranging between 31.8 million and 40 million units, with an overall average of 35.88 million among the 26 analysts polled. In the year-ago quarter, Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones, so nearly anything the company is likely to report will be an increase.

The figure analysts are likely to be looking for, however, is how much of an increase. A year ago, the 31.2 million iPhones sold represented a 20 percent jump from the 2012 figure. Should Apple fail to do as well this time around, analysts -- who often tend to focus on iPhone sales exclusively as a barometer of the company's health -- may believe that maturing markets in North America or a possible failure to expand developing markets, or both, will hurt the company's ability to maintain long-term growth and revise AAPL targets downwards.

The average estimate of 35.88 million units would represent a 15 percent y-o-y growth from 2013, but might not be enough for some analysts. Sales closer to 37.5 million would hit the 20 percent growth rate that could stave off negative predictions for the September quarter, as that is traditionally lower in sales due to customers waiting for the next iPhone to be available.

Analysts were surprised with the iPhone's record-setting strength last quarter, where it performed better in sales than it ever has in a fiscal Q2 report. In part this was due to the growth of iPhone 4S sales in developing markets, rumored to have accounted for up to a quarter of all iPhone sales during that period. While Apple doesn't break down iPhone sales by individual models, it will be interesting to see if the company's older iPhones can continue to hold their own against newer competitors, as recent surveys have suggested.

Analysts
Analysts' iPad predictions


As for iPads, analysts will clearly not allow Apple to play the "shift in inventory" card again for a while, and will be expecting sales to match or better the 16.4 million units sold in last year's fiscal Q3 in order to dispel talk of a slump in tablet demand. Apple is the only company so far to really do well with tablets, routinely shipping in a single quarter what all competitors combined ship in a year in terms of sales to end-users.

In 2013, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads, but reported only 16.4 million last quarter, a drop explained as not reflective of true end-user sales. The problem, said Cook, was an inventory build-up that had occurred following the holiday season, with the net result being that sales of the iPad had only actually dipped about three percent from 2013's second fiscal quarter, rather than the significant 16 percent drop seen in the final figures. Most analysts appear to remain skeptical of the explanation.

The same 26 analysts were polled on the issue of predicted iPad sales for the June quarter and ended up evenly divided on the question of whether Apple would sell more or less than the year-ago quarter. Guesstimates ranged from a further drop to just 12.26 million units all the way up to 16 million units even -- with the average of 14 million units sold, leaving a significant opportunity for Apple to outpace expectations, if Cook's description of fiscal Q2's problem was correct.

Institutional and back-to-school sales could bolster Apple's figures this time around, and it's worth noting that some of the most optimistic estimates come from the Braeburn group of non-Wall Street analysts and Asymco's Horace Dediu, both of whom have strong track records. Interestingly, however, while the Braeburn Group were also optimistic on iPhone sales, Dediu was more conservative -- predicting a below-average 33.7 million units.

Apple will be discussing its actual results with analysts during a broadcast conference call held after markets close on Tuesday, July 22 at 5PM ET, 2PM PT.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. pottymouth

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-19-03

    Analysts are finally forced to admit that they've just been guessing the whole time, but the figures will not meet their expectations regardless.

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