Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Another Apple blowout quarter. Once again, the Street blew it

July 20, 2011: 4:19 AM ET

But an amateur -- a Romanian mathematician teaching in Paris -- nailed the numbers

Click to enlarge.

This story never gets old.

An army of Wall Street analysts, backed by the computing power of some of the world's richest banks and brokerage houses, have once again been out-foxed and out-analyzed by rag-tag bunch of bloggers, amateurs and independent investors.

A glance at the chart at right, which lists the 48 analysts we polled in advance of Apple's Q3 earnings report by the accuracy of their estimates for revenue and earnings, will give you the basic picture. With a few exceptions, the pros (in red) were wrong and the amateurs (in blue) were right. As a group, the amateurs were twice as accurate in their predictions as the pros.

Near the bottom: Mighty Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

At the top: Nicolae Mihalache, a Romanian mathematician who teaches at the University of Paris and hangs out at a small investor site called Traderhood. He correctly predicted Apple's (AAPL) 82% growth in sales, its triple digit growth in earnings, its 140% growth in iPhone sales and its 180% growth in iPad sales.

Special mention also goes to Financial Alchemist's Turley Muller, a veteran Apple watcher who regularly scores near the top, and Navin Nagrani from The Mac Observer's Apple Finance Board, a rookie who in his first outing managed a third-place finish.

Kudos also to J.P. Morgan's Mark Moskowitz, the only Wall Street analyst to make it into the top six in the revenue-and-earnings ranking. When all the categories (including unit sales and gross margin) were included, he came in second after Mihalache.

Hudson Square's Daniel Ernst and Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty -- who turned in the worst estimates for earnings and revenues, respectively -- have some 'splainin' to do.

Below: A color-coded chart of the analysts' estimates. The best estimates are marked in bright green and the second and third in light green. The worst estimates are in dark red and the second and third in pink.

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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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