As if Apple’s management wasn’t under enough pressure from the stock falling below $100 yesterday, two firms of analysts have said that the company was either over-optimistic in its iPhone sales expectations or has even been guilty of “deliberately overstating underlying trends.”
Business Insider quotes excerpts from investor notes from Pacific Crest and UBS, each suggesting that Apple has over-estimated iPhone demand. Both point to apparent contradictions between Apple’s predictions of continued growth and supply-chain reports of reduced orders.
UBS says that it believes Apple has been taken by surprise with the relatively low numbers of people upgrading from older iPhones.
We think the most likely reason for a shortfall is that the upgrader portion of unit demand has stalled significantly in recent months and is failing to meet Apple’s own expectations.
The note from Pacific Crest goes much further.
Management’s confidence now looks highly likely to be misplaced, which suggests that it was either ignorant of the challenges it faced or deliberately overstating underlying trends. The former seems unlikely, which suggests that management has taken a much more aggressive tone as growth in the high-end smartphone market has slowed. This reduces our confidence in Apple’s commentary going forward.
Business Insider notes that the Wall Street consensus is for significant year-on-year fall in the current quarter, ranging from Stifel, Aaron Rakers and team forecasting an 8% drop in sales through to Pacific Crest at 18%. Even noted Apple bull Katy Huberty at Morgan Stanley is predicting a 15% fall this quarter.
As we noted earlier, Apple’s guidance for the current quarter will be issued when it reports its holiday quarter numbers on January 26th.