In the end, Apple‘s (AAPL) fiscal Q2 results tonight proved to better than analysts expected, especially on the one point that drew the most controversy in recent weeks, the iPhone, which saw its sales rise 88% in units, year over year, and 85% in revenue, to 35.06 million units, higher than some of the highest estimates I’ve seen.
As of just this morning, the estimate from one concerned voice, BTIG‘s Walter Piecyk, was 33 million iPhone units last quarter. Piecyk has argued that tighter upgrade policies will crimp sales of the iPhone, at least in mature markets.
The result also beat the 33.5 million estimate of Collin Gillis of BGC Partners, who yesterday wrote that price chopping may hurt the iPhone this year.
And it beat the 31.5 million units projected by BMO Capital’s Keith Bachman, who yesterday wrote that cuts in subsidies by carriers could dent iPhone sales.
Will the results quell those concerns?
Not likely, because most of the focus of those notes is what will happen this quarter, the fiscal Q3 ending in June, and the latter half of the year.
That view was exemplified by Jefferies & Co.‘s Peter Misek, who yesterday wrote that the risk to iPhone numbers was in the current quarter, not the just-ended March quarter.
Apple said during its conference call tonight that it built iPhone inventory by 2.6 million units last quarter, to end the three-month period with 8.6 million units in stock.
Some analysts may be inclined to assume that the build in inventory puffed up numbers last quarter, even though Apple says that level of stock is merely what it needs to have adequate supply.
CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer did say that iPhone sales will decline this quarter from Q2′s level, after a 5% quarter-over-quarter decline last quarter.
One early response from the Street comes in a note from Topeka Capital Markets‘s Brian White, entitled “Apple Fever Rocks On, Marching to $1,001,” his price target on the stock.
White, who maintains a Buy rating, writes that the iPhone sales “blew through our 29.64 million forecast.” The results, he claims, support his thesis that weaker-than-expected iPhone activations at AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ) in the past week do not reflect weakness in the iPhone.
Apple shares are up $40.02, or 7%, at $600.30 in late trading. That price is still 7% below the stock’s high price of $644.