Q2 2014

The best and worst Apple analysts: Q2 2014 edition

April 24, 2014: 4:59 AM ET

The amateurs beat the pros again this quarter, but not by much.

Blue = pro, green = amateur. Click to enlarge.

Blue = pro, green = amateur. Click to enlarge.

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.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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