Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally unveiled the much-anticipated iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on Tuesday, and analysts at most firms are less than thrilled—including those at Jefferies. Peter Misek, Jason North and Billy Kim said although the new iPhones are “lovely,” they’re also disappointing.
Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) declined during the trading day on Wednesday, falling as much as 5 percent after Tuesday’s iPhone unveilings.
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“Choppy” Apple trades expected
Misek and his team said they expect to see “choppy trading” on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares after the Sept. 20 launch date of the new handsets. They said the $99 on-contract price tag for the iPhone 5C is higher than expected and still keeps the company from addressing the low-end range of the smartphone market.
They also note that while the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S does provide some differentiation between the two models, they believe the device’s low yields may be a headwind for margins and initial unit volumes.
Negative takeaways from Apple’s event
The Jefferies analysts believe that sell-through on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new iPhones will be lackluster because there isn’t much to differentiate the new handsets from the old. They also said longer replacement rates and the shift of smartphone growth to the extremely low end of the market will continue to cause problems for Apple.
They note that the company still has major holes in its product line because the iPhone 5C is still far more expensive than the very low end of the market and it still has yet to offer a handset with a 5-inch screen. Jefferies’ fourth calendar quarter earnings per share estimate for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is $11.21 a share, which is far below Wall Street’s consensus of $13.49 a share. They note that they are estimating that Apple will ship 45 million iPhones during the quarter, compared with Wall Street’s estimated build plans of between 50 million and 60 million.
Positive takeaways from Apple’s event
Of course the news isn’t all bad for Apple. Jefferies analysts also note a few positive takeaways from Tuesday’s event. They said their conversations with a number of investors “indicate that buy-side consensus is not expecting Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to achieve the sell-side CQ4 iPhone numbers.”
Also Jefferies analysts note that iPhone 4S upgrades may provide a floor to new iPhone shipments in the fourth calendar quarter of the year. Between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the third quarter of 2011, iPhone shipments averaged about 18 million per quarter, but they jumped to 37 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 35 million in the first quarter of 2012.