Apple 2.0

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Apple analysts' frenzied Q4 round-up

October 16, 2010: 7:58 AM ET

The Street scrambles to get its spreadsheets ready for Monday's earnings call

Full size below the fold.

Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi added 2.3 million units to his iPhone estimate on Friday. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster doubled his iPad number. Hudson Square's Daniel Ernst raised his price target, from $300 per share to $500.

With Apple's (AAPL) products flying off the shelves and its shares setting new record highs every trading day in October (the stock closed Friday at $314.74, up $12.43 for the day), analysts who had let their spreadsheets get dusty over the quarter had a lot of catching up to do.

According to Thomson Financial, the Street's Q4 revenue consensus jumped $100 million in the space of a week, from $18.76 billion to $18.86 billion.

We've been doing our own, somewhat more detailed polling, comparing the estimates of a select group of Wall Street professionals with those of a small community of blogger-analysts who follow Apple for their own fun and profit and whose numbers, frankly, tend to be closer to the mark.

The estimates we've gathered are pasted below the fold.

Curiously, the two groups, which in recent quarters had been growing closer, at least in terms of their average estimates, seem to have drifted apart again.

Both are expecting Apple to report strong year-over-year revenue growth -- anywhere from 55.2% to 66.9%, with the bloggers 7.5% more bullish than the pros.

But they can't agree on iPad unit sales, or on the bottom line.

The bloggers, on average, are looking for Apple to report Q4 sales of 5.52 million iPads, compared with the pros' 4.73 million, a 16.8% difference.

And that's reflected in their average estimates for Q4 earnings per share. The bloggers are calling for an EPS of $4.73, the pros for $4.11. (Thomson's EPS consensus is even lower: $4.06.)

We'll find out whose numbers were closest Monday, Oct. 18 after the closing bell. We'll post our quarterly Earnings Smackdown -- along with a list of the best and worst analysts -- early Tuesday.

Revenue in billions, units in millions. Click to enlarge.

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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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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