"We're thrilled to report our best quarter ever." Apple CEO Steve Jobs has uttered those words or some variation on them after many of the company's holiday quarters, and this year will be no different, if analysts are to be believed.
Remarking on Apple's December quarter in a note to investors Monday morning, Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Doug Reid said iPhone and iMac sales for the period have been quite strong.
"Our checks suggest December quarter sales of iPhones are tracking ahead of our prior estimates, driven by increased market penetration in the United States, additional carrier agreements in multiple countries, and first-time launches in Korea and China," Reid wrote. "Mid-December Apple Store and carrier checks indicate that the 2009 holiday shopping season has seen a sharp increase in the purchase of iPhone as a gift option. We also estimate better than expected iMac sales in the quarter following a successful product refresh (announced on October 20). Our checks indicate strong demand throughout the holiday season for the new iMac line."
Seems that the shipping delays associated with Apple's new 27-inch iMacs haven't undermined sales nearly as much as some had feared. Reid says that demand and in-store availability of both 21.5-inch and 27-inch models remains strong, so much so that he's raising his iMac unit estimate for December quarter from 655K to 721K. Demand for the iPhone, too, has been strong thanks to the annual holiday consumer binge and the end of carrier exclusivity agreements in some markets.
"Mid-December Apple Store and carrier checks indicate that the 2009 holiday shopping season has seen a sharp increase in the purchase of iPhone as a gift option," Reid notes. "The ability to add iPhones to existing family service plans with carriers has been a key driver in C4Q09, our checks indicate. In addition, industry checks also suggest that AAPL is benefiting from the addition of second or third carriers in markets (e.g. UK, Canada) and from a strong initial sales ramp in Korea."
How much of a benefit? A sizable one. Reid figures Apple will sell 8.21 million to 8.89 million iPhones during the December quarter. And he expects it to sell 31.59 million to 32.27 million in fiscal 2010.
$5 and a ratty "Think Different" t-shirt says Apple shares will hit another new 52-week high today.