Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone Sales Estimates Pushed Higher

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could report higher than expected sales of the iPhone during the quarter, but not because demand for the iPhone 5 is picking up. Instead, analysts at Canaccord Genuity say clearance prices of earlier iPhone models will likely be responsible for higher than expected Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone sales.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone Sales Estimates Pushed Higher

In a report issued to investors over the weekend, analysts said their global surveys of handset sales show that demand for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone 5 has declined consistently with seasonal patterns. However, they noted stronger iPhone 4 and 4S sales during the current quarter due to reduced prices on the handsets.

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Thus, they have increased their estimates for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone sales. They raised their March quarter iPhone unit estimates from 34.5 million to 37 million. They also increased their June quarter estimates from 25 million units to 27 million units. In addition, the analysts lowered their average selling price estimate from $651 during the December quarter to $601 during the March quarter to reflect the increased numbers of lower priced models that are being sold.

The firm’s analysts said these adjustments increased their earnings per share estimate for fiscal 2013 slightly from $43.59 per share to $43.86 per share. They also increased their fiscal 2014 estimate from $50 per share to $50.16 per share.

Like most other analysts, they predict a summer iPhone refresh, so they believe Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will lose profit share in the months leading up to that refresh. However, they believe that the company has a strong supply chain and that the company’s year over year earnings will grow during the second half of this year. Also on the plus side, they expect the tech company to announce increased cash returns to shareholders very soon.

Analysts at Canaccord Genuity reiterated their Buy rating and $600 per share price target for shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). At the moment of this writing, the stock was up less than 1 percent.