Q4 iPhone Shipments Could Reach 80 Million, With 2021 Going to 250 Million

By most accounts, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will report blockbuster fiscal first-quarter results after markets close Wednesday. The company is expected to report its first-ever quarterly revenue of more than $100 billion and its best first-quarter shipment total in at least three years.

The iPhone 12, launched in December with four models, is expected to push total iPhone shipments to a range of 75 million to 80 million units for the quarter. UBS, for example, recently raised its estimate of total iPhone shipments in the quarter by 5 million units to 78.5 million.

In a report from last week, independent research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimated that the new iPhone 12 models accounted for 56% of U.S. iPhone sales in the quarter. The firm does not publish unit shipment estimates.

The better news for Apple is that the weighted average retail price for an iPhone rose from $803 in the same period last year to $873. CIRP’s Josh Lowitz said:

For the full quarter, the new iPhone 12 models, and in particular the most expensive ones, garnered a significant share of sales. Even though these models were not available for the entire quarter, the model mix and pricing drove [the weighted average retail price] to $873, the highest level we’ve seen in the almost 10 years we’ve surveyed iPhone buyers. … The core iPhone 12 had 17% of sales and was priced $100 more than last year’s iPhone 11. iPhone 12 Pro Max, priced at $1099, matched its share, with the $999 iPhone 12 Pro right behind. For all models, around half of buyers upgraded from base storage, further boosting average selling price.

The three top models (iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max) accounted for about half of total iPhone sales in the quarter while the iPhone 12 mini accounted for around 6% of sales. Fans of the smaller form-factor 12 mini who have been asking for an upgrade to the SE for years got what they wanted, but there just aren’t very many of them. The 12 mini has a suggested price of $699, $100 less than the 12. That small price difference probably drove some customers to the larger screen of the iPhone 12.

Although Apple has foregone earnings guidance due to the pandemic, there already have been reports that the company has ordered production of 96 million iPhones in the first six months of 2021, and Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said on Monday that Apple could deliver as many as 60 million to 70 million iPhones in the March quarter and another 40 million or so in the June quarter. Any hint from CEO Tim Cook that backs up numbers like that could really light a fire under Apple’s stock price.

Ives told Business Insider that Apple could sell 240 million iPhones in 2021, nearly 10% more than the consensus view for sales of around 220 million units. Driving that estimate is the fact that more than a third of the iPhones now in service worldwide are due for an upgrade and the 5G iPhone 12 is a perfect excuse.

Equities traded down Wednesday morning, and Apple was no exception. Shares traded early at around $142.60, a decline of around 0.3%, in a 52-week range of $53.15 to $145.09.

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