Analyst: Apple could sell 71.5M iPhones in Q4

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is on track to sell a record 71.5 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to estimates from one financial analyst. However, analysts in general are divided over how long demand will last for Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a fairly strong track record in predicting Apple sales, thinks Apple's iPhone shipments will surge 82 percent from the third quarter (Apple's fiscal fourth quarter), when it sold 39.27 million iPhones. If Apple did wind up selling 71.5 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, that would represent a 40 percent jump from the 51 million units Apple sold in the fourth quarter of last year.

According to Kuo's estimates, Apple is likely to sell around 41.65 million iPhone 6 units in the fourth quarter, or 58.2 percent of the estimated total. Kuo thinks Apple will sell 15.1 million iPhone 6 Plus units in the fourth quarter, and said that reports of low supplies of 6 Plus units not only indicate high demand for the larger 5.5-inch model, but also that suppliers are having trouble keeping up with demand.

Apple first started selling the new iPhones Sept. 19 in stores, and analysts are still seeing strong demand for the phones. "Two months after the product release, it's still not widely available," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said on Bloomberg West. "The supply has been tight, but the reason is the demand seems to be better than what people had thought."

Typically, according to Piper Jaffray, two months after a new iPhone launch, Apple's stores have at least one of every configuration of the new iPhone in terms of memory, Munster said. However, Apple currently just 60 percent of the various models of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Last week Munster raised his price target on Apple's shares, following similar recent moves from BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty and others. Munster thinks the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will sell in large numbers for longer than most people expect.

According to Business Insider, Munster sees Apple's supply chain issues as a positive for the company, since if a consumer really wants a new iPhone and can't find one in stores, they are more inclined to wait for supply issues to improve so they can get an iPhone rather than buying an Android phone. To him, that could drive iPhone 6 and 6 Plus demand well into the first quarter of 2015.

However, Kuo on the other hand thinks there will be a sharp drop in iPhone sales in the first quarter, down to a combined 49.4 million units, including 21.6 million iPhone 6 phones and 10.2 million iPhone 6 Plus units. Ku thinks that weak seasonal effects will blunt Apple's sales momentum. A 49.4 million figure would beat the 43.7 million Apple sold in the first quarter of 2014, but would represent an increase of only 13.8 percent.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Apple Insider article
- see this Business Insider article

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