Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple analysts do their mea culpas

January 19, 2011: 11:51 AM ET

Just kidding. We didn't hear anyone say they were sorry for blowing this quarter's estimates

This is bizarre.  Having once again failed to anticipate Apple's (AAPL) quarterly revenue results -- missing the boat, in many cases, by billions of dollars -- Wall Street's analyst raced to issue their morning-after reports.

Some were shocked, shocked by the company's spectacular performance. Some of the worst prognosticators actually patted themselves on the back for the bits they got right.

We found 39 analysts' notes in our inbox Wednesday morning. A sampling, starting from the bottom:

  • Needham's Charlie Wolf (dead last in today's ranking of the best and worst Apple analysts): "Where do we begin? Apple set records in all product categories."
  • Sterne Agee's Vijay Rakesh (second worst): "As expected, robust iPad and iPhone demand drove Q/Q growth at AAPL."
  • Think Equity's Rajesh Ghai (third worst): "As consistent with our checks, demand in Asia Pacific and Japan helped drive broad based demand, and favorable commodity prices helped drive sequential gross margin gains."
  • Ticonderoga's Brian White (fourth worst): "During our trips to China in October and December, we highlighted the momentum Apple's products were gaining with Chinese consumers. Our observations were supported by Apple's commentary last night."
  • UBS's Maynard Um (fifth worst, having underestimated CPU sales by 530,000 Macs): "We think AAPL shares offer compelling value with strong 2011 ahead We raise our tgt to $465 & reiterate Buy rating."
  • Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty (sixth worst): "This is the third quarter in a row that Apple's revenue forecast, and the first quarter in several years that Apple's EPS guidance, is above consensus."
  • Morgan Keegan's Travis McCourt (seventh worst, having underestimated iPhone sales by 2.24 million units): "Apple's revenues outperformed our expectations in every product category, but iPhone and iPod were the most surprising."

We could go on and on.

What none of these men and women have ever acknowledged is that the bloggers and amateur analysts who follow Apple manage to predict the company's performance with considerably more accuracy, quarter after quarter.

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[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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