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iPhone shipments to hit 34.5 million this quarter, says analyst

Spurred by the 5S and 5C, demand for iPhones is likely to be higher than forecast, says Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty.

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Apple could surprise Wall Street by shipping a lot more iPhones this quarter than anticipated.

Pumped up by early interest in the new iPhone 5S and 5C, as many as 34.5 million iPhones could ship for the third quarter as a whole, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in an investors note released Wednesday. That number beats the firm's earlier forecast of 31 million and the Wall Street consensus in the low 30 million range.

Morgan Stanley's smartphone tracker forecasts a 15 percent jump in iPhone shipments this quarter compared with the second quarter and a 25 percent rise over last year's third quarter. The data covers expected shipments in all countries that will get first dibs on the new iPhones, including the US, the UK, Germany, France, China, and Japan.

Some worries have been raised over Apple's failure to release preorder numbers for the iPhone 5C. But Huberty doesn't seen much cause for alarm.

"Investor concerns over the lack of a press release on preorder levels may be overblown," the analyst said. "We don't view preorders in 2013 as comparable to past years given the higher-end iPhone 5s, which is the more likely choice for early adopters, isn't available for preorder."