Analyst Boosts Apple (AAPL) iPhone Sales Outlook Into FQ1 Report; Cuts PT to $750

January 3, 2013 11:25 AM EST
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Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) saw big demand for its iPhone 5 in the quarter, though ability to meet supply early into its release was hampered slightly due to issues with panel production.

Rob Cihra from Evercore Partners is largely bullish on sales numbers for Apple's fiscal first-quarter 2013, which ended in December. Cihra raised his iPhone sales estimate (inclusive of all models) from 49 million up to 50 million, amounting to a 35 percent increase from the same period last year. The analyst cites strong demand and rapid global rollout aiding in back-end gains to flatten-out the initial issues.

Overall, iPad sales expectations were firm at 24 million units, though iPad mini sales expectations were raised from eight million to 10 million units.

Mac unit sales were lowered to 5 million units on limited early iMac supply.

The analyst raised EPS expectations by six cents to $14.27, maintaining revenue estimate at $56.3 billion. December-quarter gross margins are expected to trough at 39.2 percent before rebounding back above 41 percent in the current quarter.

Looking into fiscal 2013, Cihra was cautious. The analyst commented, "Although demand remains strong, we need to take into account what look like relatively steep iPhone production cuts into the Mar-qtr. We think some of this reflects Appleā€™s faster-than-expected ramp off severe Oct/Nov constraints, leading us to now model a more seasonal Mar-qtr for 39mil iPhones (-22%Q/Q vs. prior -9%Q/Q), but also some risk premium iPhones may ultimately be bumping up against the law of large numbers."

Apple is down 0.3 percent on the session. Evercore has an Overweight rating on Apple, lowering its price target from $775 down to $750.

For an analyst ratings summary and ratings history on Apple click here. For more ratings news on Apple click here.

Shares of Apple closed at $549.03 yesterday.

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