Although some analysts have suggested that supply constraints could keep Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) from having another record opening iPhone weekend, others say they still see a record for this weekend. Cantor Fitzgerald analysts believe that while supply constraints will play a key role in the iPhone 6’s opening weekend, they won’t keep last year’s record for unit sales from being broken.
Apple’s “big sales” held back
In their report dated Sept. 19, 2014, analysts Brian White and Isabel Zhu said supply constraints on the iPhone 6 Plus will likely “hold back big sales numbers” this opening weekend. They’re expecting iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales to “slightly exceed” last year’s 9 million units sold in the first weekend, thus setting a new record for Apple.
They’re estimating that the company will sell between 9.5 million and 10.5 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets over the weekend. They also believe that their projection actually falls short of real demand for Apple’s two new phones.
But if Apple does disappoint in opening weekend sales because of supply constraints, they don’t think that disappointment will last long.
Signs of iPhone 6 demand
The Cantor Fitzgerald team notes that all of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models sold out immediately at Apple’s Hong Kong and Singapore online stores. But even as more shoppers go online, they also noted longer lines at Apple stores.
They checked in with the company’s stores in New York City and call the lines they saw “unprecedented” compared to their checks in recent years. They note that there does appear to be a growing trend toward ordering iPhones online rather than standing in line for them. As a result, they think the lines for the new iPhones should actually shrink rather than expand every year.
Growing iPhone lines
Because of the shifting trend toward buying online and the larger than usual lines at Apple stores, they think the iPhone 6 launch “is being met with unprecedented demand.” They estimate that there were about 1,300 to 1,500 people lined up outside Apple’s flagship store on 5th Avenue. They say that’s about a 30% to 50% year over year increase in the number of people.
They estimate that there were about 950 to 1,050 people standing in line at Apple’s Grand Central Station store, which is double to triple times last year’s number. Also they saw that the line for Apple’s Soho store stretched all the way up 10th Avenue. In spite of the unprecedented demand, however, their checks suggested that all iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models remained available for at least the first few hours of the day.
They continue to rate Apple as a Buy with a $123 per share price target.