Apple iPhone Sales Beneath Analyst Expectations, but Expected to Rise

Apple iPhone sales hit 17 million in the most recent quarter, beneath some analyst expectations, but they expect those to rise on pent-up demand.

Apple's iPhone sold below certain analysts' expectations, but there's nonetheless a feeling among some in the numbers-parsing community that sales of the smartphone will spring back before the end of the year.

That certain analysts were mildly disappointed in iPhone sales during the most recent quarter may seem a bit odd, considering that Apple managed to "only" sell 17.07 million iPhones during that period. Nonetheless, those analysts were expecting iPhone sales to rise above 20 million units.

"While iPhone sales slowed during the September quarter due to the timing of the iPhone 4S launch, we anticipate iPhone sales could rebound to over 27 [million] units during the December quarter," Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley wrote in an Oct. 19 research note. "We believe the iPhone will grow faster than the smartphone market during the December quarter."

International distribution will play a part in Apple's overall sales numbers for the coming quarter. "We believe iPhone sales will continue to ramp internationally with China, Russia and Brazil," he added. "In fact, Asia-Pacific region sales increased by over 100 percent [year-over-year], and we believe solid sales of the iPhone in this region (especially China) will continue to ramp."

Other analysts seemed to concur that what they deemed "disappointing" iPhone sales numbers for the quarter would be erased by increased demand through the end of the calendar year, as customers move to refresh their aging devices with the iPhone 4S.

"The company reported iPhone sales of 17.1 million, below our expectations of 22 million and the buyside at about 20 million," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in an Oct. 18 research note. "We see this as a disappointment, but given the strong start to iPhone 4S sales, we believe it is clear that units were pushed from the Sept. quarter into the Dec. quarter as customers waited for the -iPhone 5.'"

Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, Oct. 4. The following day, the company announced the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Less than two weeks later, the iPhone 4S managed to sell some 4 million units by the end of its first weekend of release, reaffirming the smartphone franchise's popularity in the face of rising competition from the likes of Google Android.

Apple's revenue during the quarter hit $28.27 billion, resulting in a net profit of $6.62 billion: a marked increase over the year-ago quarter's $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion net profit. Gross margins also climbed over the previous 12 months, from 36.9 percent to 40.3 percent.

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