Apple and Wall Street: Six quarters of lousy estimates

September 26, 2011: 7:19 AM ET

For as long as we have been tracking them, the bloggers have trounced the pros

Click to enlarge. Sources: Thomson Financial, Apple 2.0, company reports

On Sunday, the day after Apple's (AAPL) fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 ended, we posted preliminary revenue and EPS estimates from both Wall Street's Apple analysts and a group of amateurs we've been tracking for a couple of years.

After we posted the chart, one reader who calls himself jmmxx suggested that it would be more interesting to see how the estimates from the two groups stacked up against actual historical results.

As it happens, we have those numbers for the past six quarters, starting with Q2 2010.

In the revenue chart here (and the EPS chart below the fold), we've graphed actual results against the Street's consensus (as reported by Thomson Financial) and the average estimates from our growing pool of amateurs.

The actual results are in black, the best predictions (i.e. closest to actual) are in green and the worst in red. (The gray bars represent estimates for Q4 2011.)

As you can see by the pattern of colors, the bloggers' estimates were closer to the actual results than the pros' in every quarter for the past six. In some quarters (e.g. EPS for Q1 2011) they were right on the nose.

Below the fold: The earnings per share chart.

Sources: Thomson Financial, Apple 2.0, company reports

I'm sure there are smarter ways to show these results. I'm happy to share my data with anybody who'd like to give it a try. If you can do better, I'll replace my charts with yours. (With credit, of course.)

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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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