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Estimates for Apple's fourth fiscal quarter: Entering the post-P/E era

I’m late with posting my estimates for Apple’s current (fourth fiscal) quarter. Normally I post my estimates a few days after the previous quarter’s earnings are announced. This quarter however there was a lot to think about.

As pointed out in my analysis of the previous quarter, the iPhone sold at a far faster rate than I thought. I had expected it would be a “lame duck” in the quarter but the expanding distribution allowed it to continue at a triple-digit growth rate (142% in fact, the highest quarterly growth rate since 2009).

So the question for this quarter is, as always, what’s the iPhone growth? The problem for me is that I have to choose between two assumptions:

  1. Due to distribution and dual product strategy (n-1 variant) production has now become more consistent.
  2. This quarter is the actual transition quarter when iPhone 4 production is throttled down in favor of the new model.

The first assumption would put the iPhone growth at 100%+ while the second would place it in the 60% to 80% range. I decided to dial in a figure somewhere in between at 90% but I’m not very confident in this until we see more evidence that a new pattern has emerged.

So here are my “mid” quarter forecasts:

  • iPhone units: 26.8 million (90%)
  • Macs: 4.8 million (23%)
  • iPads: 10.5 million (150%)
  • iPods: 7.0 million (-22%)
  • Music (incl. app) rev. growth: 30%
  • Peripherals rev. growth: 23%
  • Software rev. growth: 32%
  • Total revenues: $33.2 billion (growth: 63%)
  • GM: 41.8%
  • EPS: $9.05 (95%)

Three years ago the company’s share price was trading at a P/E ratio of about 35. The above estimate and today’s price implies that’s it’s trading at the same multiple but the Earnings is measured over one quarter not one year.

As @Patricklgoe noted on Twitter: the post-PC era for Apple means it’s the post-P/E era as well.