Apple 2.0

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Analyst: Apple's Q1 will beat Street by $1.2 billion

November 11, 2008: 8:43 AM ET

Zaky 2009 Q1 product summary Blogger-analyst Andy Zaky, whose earnings estimates for Apple (AAPL) this year have proved considerably more accurate than the professionals' (see here), is predicting "the mother of all earnings blowouts" when the Christmas quarter's results come in.

In a preliminary report published Monday on Seeking Alpha and his blog Bullish Cross, Zaky estimates that when Apple releases its fiscal 2009 Q1 results in January, it will report earnings of $1.96 per share on sales of $11.29 billion -- significantly higher than the $1.44 EPS on $10.08 billion that the pros are currently modeling.

"That would be the largest revenue beat by any company I've ever seen," writes Zaky, who attributes the gap between his numbers and the Street's to "irrational bearish exuberance."

Shrugging off concerns about consumer spending this quarter, Zaky is calling for sales growth in all three of Apple main product lines:

  • iPods: 22 million units (up from 11.05 million in Q4)
  • Macs: 2.8 million (up from 2.61 million)
  • iPhones: 8 million (up from 6.89 million)

Note that Zaky, as the name of his blog suggests, is bullish -- and long -- on Apple and tends to err on the side of optimism. His 2008 Q4 predictions overshot actual results for both iPhones (7.5m est. vs. 6.89m act.) and Macs (2.9m est. vs. 2.61m act.).

[Wall Street, by contrast, is betting that iPhone unit sales -- like geese -- will head south this winter. On Friday, Barclays Capital trimmed its Q1 estimate to 5 million iPhones from 6.2 million. (link)]

But even Zaky's Q1 sales estimate of $11.29 billion pales beside what he calls Apple's "real" sales and earnings. These are the adjusted -- or non-GAAP -- numbers that Apple released for the first time last quarter. They include deferred revenue from sales of iPhones -- which by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are spread out over 24 months (see The day Apple released its iPhone revenue bomb).

When Zaky estimates Apple's earnings using non-GAAP numbers, the gap between the Street's "consensus" and his "reality" grows even wider. As the table below shows, Zaky is calling for non-GAAP sales of $15.22 billion and earnings of an astonishing $3.54 a share.

The only Wall Street analyst I've found who has projected non-GAAP earnings for this quarter is Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. He has Apple earning $2.70 per share (non-GAAP) in Q1 on adjusted sales of $12.4 billion.

Zaky's GAAP vs. non-GAAP for Q1 2009

For Zaky's complete analysis -- including bullish and bearish scenarios -- see his full report at Bullish Cross here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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