With a new iPhone expected in October, Apple is poised to reap record sales of the device in its December quarter — far beyond some of Wall Street’s more agressive estimates.
BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, whose official estimate calls for Apple to sell 21.5 million in the the fourth quarter of this year, argues it could end up selling 30 million — 10 million of them in the U.S. alone.
“Since the iPhone 4 has been launched we estimate that AT&T and Verizon have represented 30 percent of Apple’s unit volume,” Piecyk wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. “If the US continues to represent 30 percent of Apple’s iPhone sales, it would imply a global iPhone demand for as many as 30 million iPhones in calendar Q4, which would generate as much as $5.3 billion and $1.19 of revenue and EPS upside to our estimates in that quarter. Sounds great but can Apple deliver that many phones?”
Piecyk concedes that 30 million may be a tough target to reach, but he doesn’t view it as impossible. Apple would have to do a few things to manage it, though, like adding Sprint as a third carrier partner in the states and continuing to sell a $49 legacy iPhone targeted at the market’s lower end.
“We estimate that when AT&T started selling the iPhone 4, it had over 16.5 million iPhone subscribers,” Piecyk explains. “This year we expect AT&T to enter the calendar fourth quarter with an installed iPhone subscriber base of 23.0 million, which provides much larger upgrade potential.” Given that, he believes it’s possible for the carrier to sell 5 million iPhones. Meanwhile, pent up demand for a brand new iPhone at Verizon could allow Big Red to sell another 4 million. So that’s 9 million right there. If Apple signs up Sprint as a third U.S. carrier, Piecyk figures it will sell another 1.5 million iPhones.
Grand total:10.5 million iPhones sold in the States. If Apple hits that number, and U.S. sales continue to be about 30 percent of global sales, then the fourth quarter is going to be a monster for the iPhone.