It’s not Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) performance that is a cause for worry, but the high expectations from the company, according to Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi. Sacconaghi wrote in a note to investors that the second half estimates for Apple, particularly those for the June quarter, were “too high.” In addition, the expectations of a new product launch prior to June were almost unrealistic, he said.
The analyst was specifically concerned about the fact that Wall Street consensus figures were “forecasting a 1 percent sequential decline in iPhones in [the fiscal third quarter], which [was] historically unprecedented in the absence of a new device – which we would not hold our breath for (at least at this point).”
Sacconaghi, who has an Outperform rating on Apple’s stock along with a $725 price target, has projected revenue of $35.7 billion and earnings of $8.52 per share in the third quarter.
“Yes, a new iPhone introduction in the month of June could possibly result in consensus expectations for the quarter being reasonable, but (1) the new iPhone had better launch early in June (our forecast is about 8 million units below consensus and assumes a new iPhone launch in the September quarter); and (2) we will not know for certain about the timing of such a device until May at the earliest… meaning that there is going to be significant uncertainty throughout this quarter,” he wrote in a note to investors.
According to the analyst, even the introduction of other new products, such as a new iPad or a television set, or even the addition of a major new carrier, such as China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) may not be enough to bridge the gap in consensus’s estimates.
Sacconaghi was also worried about Apple’s announcement that it was changing its way of forecasting earnings. “Perhaps Apple’s approach to its new guidance should have included estimates for the full fiscal year — because to us, the specter of further downward revisions could continue to spook investors in the near term,” he said.
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