This could be the iPhone’s best quarter ever

Apple Event 10/4 Tim Cook iPhones

Apple Event 10/4 Tim Cook iPhonesRemember in October how Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer went off message and actually predicted this current quarter would see Apple’s selling more iPhones than ever before? It was certainly unusual for Apple executives to raise expectations in such a specific way, but it looks like it wasn’t such a risky call: A new report from UBS says Apple is on track to sell 30 million iPhones this quarter, which would blow away the previous record of 20.34 million set in the company’s fiscal third quarter.

Maynard Um of UBS sent a note to clients late Wednesday night saying that based on AT&T’s exuberant report that the carrier is on its way to selling more iPhones than it ever has, he is upping his estimate of iPhones sold during this quarter from 28 million to 30 million. AT&T says it has sold 6 million iPhones this quarter already, so even with more than three weeks left in the quarter, its executives felt comfortable predicting it would easily surpass its current record of 6.1 million iPhones sold.

But even then, Um said his estimate is still conservative and that the actual number of iPhones sold could go even higher this quarter. He writes:

We believe that there is a general strength across the board for iPhone demand and are raising our CY4Q [estimates] to 30mn from 28mn units. We continue to believe that our [estimates] are conservative as these revised [estimates] are still below where expected build plans are. We conservatively leave our out [sic] qtr ests though we believe China launches could drive upside.

Apple, on the other hand, was the opposite of conservative when it forecast this quarter. Back in October, just after the iPhone 4S went on sale, Cook stated, “I’m confident that we will set an all-time record for iPhone this quarter,” and Oppenheimer put a bold forecast out there to match: $37 billion in revenue for this quarter — up 38 percent from the $26.74 billion of the same quarter last year — and earnings per share of $9.30, up from $6.43.

We will find out mid-January just how bold — or conservative — that call was.

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