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 of imponderables that are pulling his iPhone unit sales estimate (38.8 million) in several different directions:
"Combined," he writes, "these factors lead us to believe there is more downside risk than upside risk to our estimates."
On the other hand, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty reported Thursday that her AlphaWise smartphone tracker, which gathers sell-through data by analyzing Web searches, indicates iPhone demand at 40.6 million units, well above her 38 million estimate. "Recent promotions," she writes, "like those at U.S. carriers and retailers, and product adjustments, notably the introduction of an 8GB iPhone 5c in some regions, may have stimulated demand more than expected."
It's certainly more than expected by most of the analysts we polled in our quarterly survey, now in its sixth year.
We've heard from 32 Apple analysts so far -- 20 Wall Street professionals and 12 amateurs. Their estimates range from a high of 42.5 million iPhones, from Needham's Charlie Wolf, to a low of 34.05 million from a pro who asked that his name and affiliation not be used. He's one of 10 analysts who believe Apple sold fewer iPhone last quarter than the 37.4 million it sold in the same quarter last year.
The average of all the estimates is 38.2 million, which would represent a 2% increase year over year. As usual, the amateurs are more bullish, with an average estimate of 38.8 million. But the pros are right behind them at 37.8 million.
We'll find out who was closest to the mark when Apple reports its fiscal Q2 2014 earnings after the markets close on Wednesday, April 23.
Below: The individual analyst's estimates -- pros in blue, indies in green. Thanks as always to Posts at Eventide's Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.
Whatever it plans to do with all that crystal-growing capacity, it will likely come out ahead.
FORTUNE -- What's Apple (AAPL) up to with that sapphire factory it's building in Mesa, AZ?
That's one of the questions Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi (who covers Apple) and Alberto Moel (who covers Corning) set out to answer in a two-part report to clients issued Wednesday -- the same, day, coincidentally, that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial anti-gay MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 27, 2014 10:15 AM ET
Last week, Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi put Apple's incremental sales at 15 million.
FORTUNE -- This week's burning question among Apple (AAPL) analysts is this:
If and when China Mobile (CHL) begins selling iPhones to its 759 million subscribers, how many will it sell in the first year?
Everybody's got numbers, but the two most persuasive estimates I've seen came from Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi and Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, who each took the time to show his or MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 16, 2013 10:22 AM ET
He cut his buyback demand from $150 billion to $50 billion and gave Apple a year to do it.
FORTUNE -- From the headlines, you would think that Carl Icahn, America's most famous corporate raider, had donned a headdress and gone into his war dance:
Icahn beats Apple buyback drum (again) with new proposal (CNET)
Carl Icahn Rallies Apple Shareholders To Demand Stock Buyback (Cult of Mac)
Carl Icahn ups ante in crusade for Apple buyback (Associated Press)
Not yet, says Toni Sacconaghi, but the end may be in sight.
FORTUNE -- Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi produced the chart above for a report out Monday that raises what is, for Apple (AAPL), an existential question:
Are There Enough Wealthy People in the World to Sustain iPhone Unit Growth?
Note that the black bars in the chart that represent first-time buyers are shrinking.
Sacconaghi's conclusion: Barring a signed contract with China Mobile (CHL) or MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 7, 2013 11:22 AM ET
Apple suffers as Samsung cuts third quarter Galaxy S4 production by an estimated 25%.
FORTUNE -- You would think that bad news for Samsung's smartphones would be good news for Apple (AAPL). But that's not how Wall Street sees it, according to Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi.
In an CNBC interview Monday, Sacconaghi listed among the reasons for Apple recent weakness (down 6.8% in a week) the Street's concerns about "Samsung's high end product perhaps MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 25, 2013 7:50 AM ET
Unless, says Bernstein's Sacconaghi, Apple introduces new iPhones this summer.
FORTUNE -- The chart at right represents the worst case scenario for Apple's (AAPL) share of the global smartphone market, as forecast Monday by Sanford Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi.
Using Apple's own numbers for fiscal Q2, Sacconaghi calculates that iPhone sales grew 7% year over year in a sell-in basis (12% in a sell-through basis) while the overall smartphone market grew by about 36%. The MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 29, 2013 4:51 PM ET
Bernstein's Apple analyst says investors are expecting the equivalent of a 4.5% yield.
FORTUNE -- According to Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi, Apple's (AAPL) top brass has been holding "widespread discussions" with key investors to get input on its plans to return more of its $137.1 billion cash hoard to shareholders.
Sacconaghi has been debriefing those investors and now thinks he has a pretty good idea of how Apple's cash management plans have MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 15, 2013 11:20 AM ET
Topeka's Brian White is sticking with $888. Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi is still at $725.
FORTUNE -- After a string of analysts dropping their price targets in lockstep with Apple's (AAPL) falling shares, it's refreshing to hear from a couple of guys who haven't lowered their targets. Or at least not lately.
Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi ($725, down from $800 last December) weighed in Tuesday with his views on the much-rumored Apple iWatch. He's MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 19, 2013 12:53 PM ET
Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty thinks Apple should borrow to pay its shareholders
FORTUNE -- While Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn was lobbying shareholders Thursday to support his perpetual preferred stock idea (see Would you buy an iPref from this man?), Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty has been meeting with the Apple (AAPL) executive who rejected Einhorn's proposal last September: Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer.
In a note to clients Friday, Huberty reports that she MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 22, 2013 6:47 AM ET
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