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) and Michel Contant (No. 4 and No. 8).
Among the pros, shout outs (along with Craig) to Wells Fargo's Maynard Um (No. 7) and Goldman Sachs' Bill Shope (No. 12) for forming little blue islands in a sea of greens. Also to Needham's Charlie Wolf for the best iPhone and iPod estimates.
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 they are not telling their clients is that they've 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 analysts," 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
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
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
The estimates range from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. Average: 4 million, up 2.8% from 2013.
FORTUNE -- Once Apple's (AAPL) biggest money maker, the Mac at 12% of total revenue is now No. 3 after the iPhone (52%) and iPad (20%).
[No. 4 at 7.6% and climbing fast is the category Apple calls "iTunes, Software and Services."]
The good news for the axis of Apple's digital hub strategy is that the year-over-year declines the Mac suffered for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 19, 2014 5:26 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 15 million to nearly 22 million. Average: 19.3 million.
FORTUNE --Although the heyday of the iPad -- when it basically owned the tablet computer market -- may be over, the product line is still Apple's (AAPL) second most important source of revenue, holding steady at roughly 20% of total sales.
With growing competition and the rise of the phablet (mini-tablets that double as phones), nobody is expecting a repeat of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 18, 2014 6:57 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 34 million to nearly 43 million. Average: 38.2 million.
FORTUNE -- In the analysts' notes to investors leading up to Apple's (AAPL) quarterly earnings report next week, the iPhone is topic No. 1.
And with good reason. iPhone sales remain the company's single biggest source of revenue -- 52.6% of total revenues, to be specific, at this time last year.
In a note issued Wednesday, Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi rattled off a list MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 17, 2014 2:02 AM ET
The conference call with analysts will be webcast live at 5 p.m. Eastern.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) Monday posted the date and time of the company's earnings report for the second fiscal quarter of 2014 on its Investor Relations website.
Date: Wednesday April 23
Time: 2 p.m. PT, 5 p.m. ET
I'll be traveling around Europe for most of April, but will be covering the news from Paris, the gods of Wi-Fi permitting.Philip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 31, 2014 6:46 PM ET
Without a new product, says a prominent amateur analyst, Apple may be stuck below 10%.
FORTUNE -- Robert Paul Leitao manages a Los Angeles Catholic Church by day, but his real devotion is to Apple (AAPL).
When I first met him, Leitao was running The Mac Observer's Apple Finance Board, which he moved to LinkedIn a few years ago and renamed AAPL Independent Analysts. He also founded the Braeburn Group, and every quarter he pulls together his members' estimates for Fortune's Apple MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 30, 2014 1:15 PM ET
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