Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The first 5-million Mac quarter?

January 18, 2012: 2:28 PM ET

33 of 46 analysts expect Apple to meet or beat that mark in its quarterly report next week

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One of the big computer news stories last quarter was the continued strength of Apple's (AAPL) Mac sales even as the rest of the PC industry was shrinking. (See Mac sales zigged as Windows PC sales sagged in Q4.)

How well did the Mac do? We put the question to our two groups of analysts -- pros and independents -- and got a wide range of responses.

Of the 46 analysts we've heard from to date, all but a half dozen expect Apple to break the record 4.89 million set in its September quarter. Although the estimates range from a low of 4.52 million from Susquehanna's Jeff Fidacaro to a high of 6.5 million from Navin Nagrani of AAPL Independent Analysts, the spread between the institutional and independent analysts is relatively narrow, at least compared with their estimates for revenue and EPSiPhones and iPads.

The average Mac unit sales estimate among the pros is 5.07 million; among the bloggers it's 5.16 million. The consensus of all 46 analysts combined is a little over 5.15 million, representing nearly 25% growth from the same quarter last year.

We'll find out who was closest to the mark next Tuesday at about 4:30 p.m. EST, when the quarterly results hit the business wires. Apple is scheduled to discuss those results in a 5 p.m. conference call with analysts that the company will webcast here.

Below: The estimates we've gathered so far and the dates they were submitted, with the independents in green and the institutionals in blue. The rank numbers show how accurate each analyst's revenue and EPS estimates were over the past four quarters (the lower the better).

Source: Analysts' reports, private communication

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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

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