Can Apple Sell 160 Million iPhones This Year?

There is a broad range of forecasts for iPhone sales in the final part of 2017. Most analysts expect unit sales to be somewhere in the 160 million range as a total across the June, September, and December quarters. Numbers can’t approach that level without home run sales for the new iPhone 8. While the number seems huge, the fate of Apple’s stock price hangs in the balance on these expectations.

Recently, according to Barron’s, Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt wrote:

We note that consensus estimates for iPhone unit sales over the next three quarters (June-December) call for ~172 million vs. our ~160 million, while our March/June 2018 expectations are well above consensus due to supply of OLED screens, which will stretch out the time by which Apple can saturate early demand.

Whether OLED screens will spur demand is beyond the comprehension of most consumers who will or may buy an iPhone 8.

Does the forecast show how spectacular iPhone sales expectations are? Not really. They are not beyond what Apple has posted in its best quarters. In its fiscal Q1 2017, which included year end holiday results, Apple sold 78 million iPhones. If anything, the iPhone 8 should best this because it will be released just ahead of this year’s holiday. That makes a forecast of 160 million very realistic.

One of the things about Apple’s shares that is most vexing is the seesawing based on rumors.  This has been particularly true of iPhone 8 expectations. Since mid-May, shares have jumped as high as $156 and as low as $142.  There has not been any substantial news over that period, other than quarterly earnings that were about what Wall St. expected. Investors might as well wait to see at least the early signs of the progress. Otherwise, they are just being whipped one way or another without any real foundation for the movement.

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