Thursday morning, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) announced it activated 3.1 million iPhones, while analysts from renowned research firm PiperJaffray had expected around 2.5m in iPhone sales from the company. Separately, Verizon announced 651k iPhone 5 activations. The analysts however, believe there are two key takeaways: the non-iPhone 5 business for September appears stronger than expected, and beyond the opening weekend, they believe Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) activated a few iPhone 5s for September, pushing demand into the December quarter. iPhone 5 supply remains tight in the US (sporadic Sprint availability, no Verizon/ATT) based on their nightly checks of 70 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail locations. Piper Jaffray reiterates that if supply does not improve by the end of this month, there is supply risk to their 49m iPhone estimate for December. Any reductions to December estimates would largely be reallocated to March.
For Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Piper Jaffray Analysts’ are modeling total iPhone sales to be down 4% q/q. They note that Verizon’s activation numbers are sell-through, and Apple’s are sell-in, but believe they are relevant to look at together. More importantly, if you net out the 651k iPhone 5s activated by Verizon in September, Verizon’s iPhone number suggests that the slowdown of older iPhones may not have been as drastic as previously suspected. Based on Verizon’s report, it appears that non-iPhone 5 sales were down 9% q/q, while the research firm is currently modeling Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to see a 35% q/q decline in non-iPhone 5 sales in September. The reason they were looking for a 35% q/q decline is due to the impact of customers waiting for the iPhone 5. The bottom line is, they are incrementally more comfortable with their 25 million September iPhone estimate
While analysts from RBC Capital believe that iPhone 5 demand continues to be strong. They however will look for numbers from AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) to get a more complete picture of N. America’s demand. AT&T is a larger seller of iPhone vs. VZ historically and they are reporting on Oct 24th. In their view, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s issues are less to do with demand and more related to supply constraints. Analysts from RBC Capital believe the supply chain will continue to ramp-up and sales will continue to grow through Dec- and Mar-qtrs. Long-term they see multiple tailwinds at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) driven by multiple product cycles that should enable the stock to work toward our $750 price target.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), the rival of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is going to post its own quarterly iPhone sales in its earnings call next week. While Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), in its earnings on October 25, will unveil the total figure of iPhone sales for the September quarter, including the sales of iPhone 5 made in the last week.