FORTUNE -- It was almost like the Apple (AAPL) Earnings Smackdowns of old, where the free-wheeling amateur analysts -- focused obsessively on their favorite investment -- clobbered the Wall Street professionals by correctly anticipating a huge beat driven by stronger than expected iPhone sales.
Except that six years ago, when we began this quarterly exercise, Apple was still growing by double digits, Steve Jobs was still low-balling guidance and (retiring) CFO Peter Oppenheimer was burying much of Apple's iPhone revenue in deferred payments that the amateurs had discovered but the pros apparently hadn't.
Today, Apple's guidance is "realistic," iPhone sales are booked in the quarter they are received, and the amateurs -- burned by filing too many overheated estimates -- have grown so cautious their numbers are nearly indistinguishable from the pros'.
We have to give a shout-out to Patrick Smellie of the independent Braeburn Group for submitting a revenue estimate that, while nearly $1 billion shy of Apple's actual total sales, was closer than anyone else's.
But Scott Craig's No. 2 ranking -- and his No. 1 performance in "all categories" -- is actually more impressive. Smellie bets high every quarter and this time it paid off. Craig, who was No. 1 in Q2 last year, has been doing well in good quarters and bad.
Among the other amateurs who scored high are veterans Daniel ("Deagol") Tello (No. 6 and No. 2 overall), Michel Content (No. 4) and Matt Lew (No. 5).
Among the pros, shout outs (along with Craig) to Wells Fargo's Maynard Um (No. 7) and Goldman Sachs' Bill Shope (No. 12) for scoring well in both rankings.
This was not a quarter to underestimate Apple, as evidenced by all the red and pink in the boxes next to our three biggest bears: Credit Suisse's Kulbinder Garcha (No. 39), ISI's Brian Marshall (No. 38) and the Braeburn Group's Sunil Shah (No. 37).
Below: Our annotated master spreadsheet, with the best estimates highlighted in bright green, the second and third best in light green, the worst in red and the second and third worst in pink. Thanks one last time to Posts at Eventide's Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.
What are they are not telling their clients is that they missed a chance to make some money.
FORTUNE -- If the small army of analysts who track Apple (AAPL) are embarrassed by their failure -- across the board -- to alert clients that Apple was about beat the Street's consensus and announce a 7-for-1 split, and that its shares might pop better than 8% in overnight trading, you wouldn't know it from their post-earnings notes.
"Many MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 24, 2014 1:50 AM ET
Apple reports earnings of $11.62 per share on sales of $45.6 billion, a Q2 record.
FORTUNE -- The numbers are in, and they're surprisingly good. Stronger than expected iPhone sales seem to have boosted both the gross margin and the bottom line. iPad sales were a little weak, due largely to channel inventory changes. Mac sales were up and the iPod business, as expected, has pretty much collapsed. Apple press release.
In MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2014 4:00 PM ET
"Powerful" is getting heavily re-tweeted, and the early reviews online are positive.
FORTUNE -- Two years after marketing VP Phil Schiller's outburst, the team doing Apple's (AAPL) TV advertising seems to be "feeling it" again.
The ad is available on YouTube.Philip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2014 2:14 PM ET
With today's earnings expected to be ho-hum, does Apple have a surprise up its sleeve?
FORTUNE -- On Tuesday, Re/code's Walt Mossberg joined the parade of Apple (AAPL) watchers wondering whether the company has lost its innovative magic.
To Mossberg's credit, he points out that there was a six-year gap between the iPod and the iPhone, and that it's only been four years since Steve Jobs -- knowing his end was near -- pushed out the iPad.
Still, the operative metaphor of Mossberg's piece MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2014 6:34 AM ET
Dutch royalty once shopped in the century-old fashion house where Apple now sells iPads.
FORTUNE -- Queen Emma of The Netherlands, who in 1879 married a man once described as "the greatest debauchee of the age," used to buy her gowns in the building that now houses Apple's (AAPL) retail presence in Amsterdam. So did her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina. And so did Wilhelmina's daughter, Queen Juliana.
In its heyday, the building Leo Hirsch erected on the Leidseplein to MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2014 4:15 AM ET
The average forecast of 40 analysts: Earnings up 2.4% year over year, revenue down 0.2%.
FORTUNE -- With one day to go before Apple (AAPL) is scheduled to report its earnings for the March quarter – Q2 in Apple's fiscal year -- the expectations of the analysts polled for Fortune's quarterly round-up are not high.
In fact, they're either flat or down across the board according to the 40 analysts we've heard from so far. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 22, 2014 8:17 AM ET
Tim Cook responds to criticism from environmentalists with a video message of his own.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) continues to come under pressure from environmentalists and human rights groups to clean up its act.
Currently making the rounds on college campuses is filmmaker Heather White's Who Pays the Price, a 9:30-minute video that begins in the style of a soft-voiced Apple promo ("This is what matters. The experience of a product. Will it make life better...") but quickly MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 21, 2014 1:50 PM ET
Average estimate: $10.32 per share on sales of $43.5B. Apple's guidance: $42 to $44B.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) share price got clobbered in after-hours trading three months ago when the company announced its earnings for the Christmas quarter. The problem was not the record sales of Macs, iPads and iPhones -- although the iPhone numbers came in a bit lighter than expected.
No, what knocked nearly $45 billion off Apple's market cap that night was MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 21, 2014 3:22 AM ET
Estimates range from $4 billion to nearly $5 billion, but growth continues to slow.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) No. 4 revenue stream -- after the iPhone, iPad and Mac -- is a line item the company calls iTunes, Software and Services.
The category is something of a hodgepodge -- a grab bag where the company tosses, to quote from a footnote in its SEC filings, "revenue generated by sales on the iTunes Store, the App Store, the Mac App Store and the iBookstore, plus revenue from sales MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 20, 2014 2:29 AM ET
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