Exclusive: How the Apple analysts have changed their tune

Bottom line: My panel is 6% more bullish about Apple’s September quarter than it was last summer.

In the last week of July, I asked my panel of analysts to estimate Apple’s top- and bottom-line results for the September quarter (fiscal Q4 2018).

Last week, with Q4 results about to be released, I asked them again.

With a few glaring exceptions, they are, as a group, modestly more bullish about the quarter than they were three months ago, up an average of 4% on revenue and 6% on earnings per share.

Here’s what that looks like. Click on the column headings in the charts below to see before, after, and—most dramatically—the three-month changes. Not seeing the Revenue chart, click here.

Not seeing the EPS chart, click here.

We’ll see who was closest to the mark when Apple reports next Thursday (Nov. 1). The conference call with analysts begins at 5 p.m Eastern. I’ll be listening in. You can too. Tune in here..


  1. David Gelphman said:

    I have to say that I always get a kick out of the photo that Philip chooses for each post. It’s not why I subscribe but it adds something fun and usually brings a smile to my face. Thank you!

    October 27, 2018
    • David Emery said:

      Maybe I’m showing my age/cultural ignorance, but I didn’t “get” this photo.

      October 28, 2018
      • My apologies. But maybe you should get out more. That’s Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born.

        Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus: With appealing leads, deft direction, and an affecting love story, A Star Is Born is a remake done right — and a reminder that some stories can be just as effective in the retelling..

        My take: The first half is terrific.

        October 28, 2018
  2. Robert Paul Leitao said:

    The changes in my September quarter estimates (revenue and eps) from three months were primary influenced by the early release date for the iPhone XS handsets and Apple’s aggressive draw down of iPhone channel supply in the June quarter. Both of those factors will positively influence Apple’s September quarter results.

    October 27, 2018
  3. Gregg Thurman said:

    Good point Robert. Filling the channel will be as big, if not a bigger, influence on iPhone units than sell through. Given how quickly iPhone XS lead times dropped (got mine early October five days after ordering) I think iPhone ramp was ahead of schedule. This will allow for increased channel supply that I don’t think WS is considering.

    Then looking at iPhone Xr pricing vs iPhone 8 I don’t see the 8 doing well at all, especially the Plus, effectively increasing upward pressure on ASP.

    I’m looking for really strong guidance from Apple on November 1. Tepid guidance from those already reporting is a big factor of the Indexes declines this last week. None of those reporting compete with the iPhone. Apple has price elasticity that overcomes flat unit sales, unlike everybody else in the DOW or S&P 500.

    October 27, 2018
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:


      Apple’s September quarter ended on September 29th. The iPhone XS handsets were released on September 21st in Apple’s highest revenue generating geographies followed by a long list of smaller countries on the 28th.

      Apple was carrying comparatively high levels of component inventories into the September quarter and although the handset sizes changed with this year’s models, the production changeover was most likely not as dramatic or problematic as in the past.

      With the June quarter drawdown in channel supply, Apple had ample room going into this year’s launch to ship product to 3rd-party resellers while satisfying direct-to-consumer demand.

      There’s no reason not to expect unit sales growth year-over-year in the September quarter. Last year the original iPhone X was released on November 2nd.

      The iPhone 8 series handsets present a price and features contrast to support sales of the iPhone Xr and are equipped with the A11 Bionic chip. Any and all sales of A11-based devices this year support the continued advancement of the eco-system and provide developers with an ever-larger addressable market of the most powerful handsets in the world. Keeping the iPhone 8 series handsets in the market is a win-win proposition for Apple and the company’s global developer community.

      October 27, 2018
  4. Gregg Thurman said:

    Keeping the iPhone 8 series handsets in the market is a win-win proposition for Apple and the company’s global developer community.

    I agree, but the price delta moving up to this year’s iPhone Xr from LAST year’s iPhone 8 is slight (~$5/month on 2 year agreement) that I believe consumer preference will be the Xr. The iPhone XS variants will continue to sell well, while the Xr will exceed iPhone 8 sales, resulting in increased upward pressure on ASPs.

    I’m not a big fan of unit sales as a metric. I am a big fan of revenue as a metric and the iPhone Xr will help fuel YoY revenue growth.

    October 27, 2018
  5. Fred Stein said:

    It’s nice to see a tight grouping, especially removing the low-ball, estimates for EPS.

    Hopefully when Apple reports, the analysts will have enough synapses to absorb all the good news. It will be big.

    October 27, 2018

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