Apple Inc. Executes Despite Supply Constraints

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) should see a higher average selling price for the iPhone this year, thanks to a number of factors, according to analysts at Stifel. Also Cantor Fitzgerald analysts say Apple executed very well in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus opening weekend—despite the odds stacked against it.

Apple sees rising opening weekend numbers

In a report dated Sept. 22, 2014, Stifel analyst Aaron Rakers and his team provide a history of early iPhone sales by cycle. For the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple took more than 4 million preorders and sold more than 10 million on opening weekend. For the iPhone 5, the company took more than 2 million preorders. Apple did not disclose preorder numbers for the iPhone 5S and 5C last year.

As is shown in this graph (which is courtesy Stifel), Apple has a steady rise in early iPhone sales over the last several years:

Apple shipments

The Stifel team estimates that in the launch quarter and the December quarter, Apple will sell a total of 96.3 million iPhones. That compares to last year’s 84.8 million in the launch quarter and the following quarter.

Why Apple’s iPhone ASP will rise

The Stifel analysts think that Apple will see a higher average selling price for the iPhone this year for two big reasons. First, they think the sales mix of the iPhone 6 and more expensive iPhone 6 Plus will carry it higher. Second, they point out that customers can no longer opt for a 32-gigabyte model.

They note that last year with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C product cycle, Apple’s blended average selling price rose by $60 between the September and December quarters. It climbed from $577 to $637 quarter over quarter.

Apple expands iPhone sales quickly

The Stifel analysts also point out that Apple plans to have the two new iPhone models up for sale in 115 countries by the end of this year. In the last two years, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S and 5C were available in only 100 countries by the end of their respective launch years.

Of course this rapid expansion is a positive because it means Apple thinks it can have enough iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units available for consumers in more countries. That’s in spite of what appears to be higher demand this year.

Apple executes well in spite of the odds

In a separate report also dated Sept. 22, 2014, Cantor Fitzgerald analysts Brian White and Isabel Zhu say Apple met their expectation of between 9.5 million and 10.5 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units sold over launch weekend. That’s a more than 11% increase over last year’s opening weekend of 9 million iPhone 5S and 5C units.

They point out that Apple managed to set a new record even though it was dealing with supply constraints for the iPhone 6 Plus and did not include China in opening weekend. They see the 10 million units sold over opening weekend as a “very big print” because of both of these issues.

The Cantor Fitzgerald team added that Apple’s strong iPhone sales numbers out of the gate show that the company “executed extremely well in the face of severe supply constraints.” They expect Apple stock to continue rising based on these strong sales numbers and have reiterated their Buy rating and $123 per share price target on Apple.

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