EPS. Earnings smackdown

Apple's Q4 2011: A tale of three wildly different estimates

September 25, 2011: 5:18 PM ET

Between the company, the Street and the amateur analysts, a range of $9.4 billion

Click to enlarge. Data: Company reports, Thomson Financial, Apple 2.0

Apple's (AAPL) fourth fiscal quarter of 2011 ended Saturday, and depending whose estimates you believe, it was either a ho-hum quarter or a record-smasher.

The chart at right shows the actual revenue and earnings per share for the previous 11 quarters -- Q1 2009 through Q3 2011. In the last three columns we've plotted three pairs of data points for the 12th quarter, Q4 2011:

  • The company's guidance (offered in July):
    Earnings per share of $5.50 on sales of $25 billion
  • The consensus of 42 professional analysts (via Thomson Financial):
    Earnings of $7.10 on sales of $28.99 billion
  • The consensus of 7 amateur analysts (submitted to Apple 2.0):
    Earnings of $9.20 on sales of $34.36 billion

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