For instance, Brian White at Topeka Capital was calling for Apple to sell 6-6.5 million iPhones. White is probably the biggest Apple bull in the world. He has a $1,111 price target on the stock.
So, how did Apple come up short?
Here's White's explanation: "We believe this shortfall is largely due to supply availability and the fact that most consumers are opting for the pre-order option."
He notes that in the release Apple says its "sold out of our initial supply."
However, we would caution this might just be some very tricky wording. Who knows what the "initial supply" of iPhone 5s is. Perhaps its initial supply of iPhone 5s was 4 million. Then it had something it calls the "second supply," which is another 4 million.
While some stores did sell out of the iPhone 5, some Apple stores still had stock of iPhone 5s this weekend. So, there's a bit of a mixed message.
In our opinion, the full story of iPhone sales and growth won't be told until Apple reports holiday quarter sales in January.
From White's note, here the two bullet points that explain how his sales estimate was off:
Initial Three Day iPhone 5 Sales Exceed 5 Million and Below Our Estimates. This morning, Apple announced that sales for the iPhone 5 exceeded 5 million during the first three days of availability and above the greater than 4 million in sales for the iPhone 4S during the first three days of availability last year. However, the iPhone 5 three day volume missed our estimate of 6 million to 6.5 million, which we believe is driven by availability as many stores that we contacted this weekend were sold out in the first twenty four hours. In fact, Apple indicated this morning that they "have sold out of our initial supply" of the iPhone 5. Keep in mind, Apple launched the iPhone 5 at 8:00 AM on Friday in nine countries but expects to reach a total of 100 countries with 240 carriers by the end of the year.
Off to a Very Strong Start. Given the more than 2 million in pre-orders for the iPhone 5 in the first twenty fours of availability (vs. over 1 million last year) and three day sales of over 5 million (vs. over 4 million), Apple clearly has a blockbuster on its hands. We continue to believe the bigger issue for Apple will be in iPhone 5 revenue recognition in 4QFY12 due to availability of supply and not demand.