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Analyst predicts stellar iPad sales in next week's Apple earnings

iPhone, Mac sales won't be as sluggish as some think

July 19, 2012 03:35 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple will report a fall-off in iPhone sales next week, although not as dramatic as some believe, but the iPad will make up the difference, with units sales 72% above last year's, a financial analyst today.

And Mac sales will prove to be not as dire as some have predicted, said Brian White, an analyst with Topeka Capital Markets, in an interview today.

"It's pretty difficult to dig down into this quarter to see what's going on," acknowledged White, "but I do think [Mac sales] have been impacted by the macro economic environment, especially in the U.S."

Some research firms have forecast slumping U.S. Mac sales in the second calendar quarter, with IDC predicting a drop of 1% from the same quarter last year.

White didn't think that would happen. "In the June quarter, U.S. Mac sales have always outgrown the global number," said White.

Which is one reason he has estimated that Apple will record sales of 4.6 million Macs worldwide in the quarter that ended June 30, up 17.6% over the same period in 2011, and up 15.5% from this year's first quarter.

Bullish though those numbers are, White cautioned today that they may be too aggressive, in part because while the June refresh of Apple's notebooks -- the sweeping revamp of both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines, with the latter getting the first-ever "Retina" display -- pushed sales, the two previous months were less than stellar.

"Obviously, there's also some cannibalization [of Mac notebooks] by the iPad, Apple's acknowledged that several times," White noted. But he said it was extremely difficult to pin a number on the lost Mac laptop sales.

iPad sales will be in the neighborhood of 15.9 million, a 72% increase over the second quarter of 2011, said White, and revenue from tablet sales will be around $8.8 billion, more than half again as much as the Mac line.

But the iPhone will continue to be the biggest motor in Apple's money-making machine.

White pegged iPhone sales for the quarter at 30.9 million, 52% more than the same quarter last year. His iPhone number is higher than most analysts', but White pointed out that earlier today Verizon reported 2.7 million iPhone activations for the quarter, which he characterized as "much better than feared."

"We believe that the Street has overreacted to iPhone shipment concerns in the June quarter," said White in a research note penned to clients today. "Given the Verizon numbers this morning, we wonder if our projections could now prove conservative."

The iPhone will produce 50% of Apple's total estimated revenue of $38.9 billion for the quarter, said White, down somewhat from the 58% of last quarter and even the 53% of the quarter before that.

White was somewhat surprised by the apparent strength of the iPhone, whose current model, the iPhone 4S, is in its third quarter of availability. But the real fall-off in sales occurs this quarter, as the anticipated launch of the next iteration looms nearer: White estimated that iPhone sales in the third quarter, which ends Sept. 30, will be 26.2 million, followed by a blow-out fourth quarter of around 44.7 million, fueled by the new iPhone, whatever Apple dubs it.

Apple will hold its quarterly earnings call Tuesday, July 24, starting at 5 p.m. ET.

Most expect that the company will use the call to announce the launch OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, for the following day.

The iPhone accounts for the bulk of Apple's revenue, but the iPad is gaining. (Last two quarter's data based on estimates provided by Topeka Capital Markets.)

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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