Colin Gillis

Apple Q2: Misses high and low, but the best bloggers nailed it

April 25, 2012: 7:12 AM ET

Independent analysts take the top 8 spots in our quarterly earnings smackdown

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- Neither side scored a clear victory this time around. The professional analysts as a group were far too cautious. And our expanded cadre of independents showed signs of irrational exuberance.

But the list at right, which ranks 57 Apple (AAPL) analysts by the accuracy of their fiscal Q2 2012 revenue and earnings estimates, shows that the independents have once again bested the pros -- their 14th win in 15 quarters.

The top eight spots were taken by indies, including four of the six "best analysts" whose estimates we used as a benchmark in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's earnings report.

The top spot goes, once again, to Daniel ("Deagol") Tello, a Venezuelan blogger who has been posting earnings estimates since 2005. You can read his occasional analyses here.

Special mention goes to Alexis Cabot, an American expat living in Rome, who came in first in the ranking that includes all six categories (revenue, EPS, unit sales and gross margin). And to Chuck Jones, a former buy-side tech analyst who has been doing independent analysis on Apple for six months and came in third in his first outing.

Kudos also to Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves, BCG's Colin Gillis, Merrill Lynch's Scott Craig and J.P Morgan's Mark Moskowitz who all managed to make it into the top 15 despite institutional pressures not to stray too far from the Street's consensus.

Last place went to Gabriel Dubois, an independent from the newly formed Braeburn Group who like many of his peers this quarter let his enthusiasm get the better of him, overestimating iPhone sales by nearly 9 million units and revenue by nearly $8 billion.

Otherwise the bottom of the list was populated by pros who seem to have missed those photographs of Chinese iPhone buyers mobbing the Beijing Apple Store. How else could Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore, ISI's Brian Marshall and Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty have submitted iPhone sales estimates of 26, 26 and 30 million units, respectively?

For the record, here's how our six "best analysts" -- the top performers over the past five quarters -- did as a group:

Best estimates in green.

Clearly the key to correctly predicting Apple's bottom line was getting the iPhone number right.

Below the fold: 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.

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