Best and worst Apple analysts: Q4 2018

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In Apple 3.0’s final Earnings Smackdown with unit sales, the indies took seven of the top 10 spots.

A tip of the hat to:

  • Robert Paul Leitao, founder of the Braeburn Group of independent Apple investors, whose estimates for top and bottom lines gave him a well-deserved first-place finish.
  • Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi, who makes his first appearance in the top 10 with best estimates in EPS, iPhone ASP and Services.
  • Asymco’s Horace Dediu, the once and future king of Apple analysts, with best estimates in Revenue, ASP and iPad unit sales.

A wag of the finger at:

  • BTIG’s Walter Piecyk, for underestimating Apple’s revenue by $2.7 billion (4.3%).
  • Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty, for overestimating Apple’s earnings per share by $0.56 (19%).
  • Piper Jaffray’s Michael Olson, for underestimating the iPhone’s average selling price by $84. (10.6%).

Below: My best-and-worst list, ranked by the average error in top-and-bottom lines, (pros in blue and the amateurs in green). Note that I’m no longer ranking analysts by their estimates for Unit Sales, Services, Other Products and the rest. Let the new translucency begin.

best worst q4 2018

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Finally, a color-coded spreadsheet that shows, in each category, best and second-best estimates (in bright and dull green) and worst and second-worst (in bright red and pink). Corrections appreciated.

best worst q4 2018

Click to enlarge. 

My take: When I started this exercise in 12 years ago, iPhone, iPod and Mac unit sales were the best way to judge Apple’s performance, and by that measure the bloggers were regularly clobbering the pros. What metrics should I track going forward? When the dust settles, I’ll open a space where we can discuss the options.