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Apple Could Report Its First $100 Billion Quarter Next Week

By Evan Niu, CFA - Jan 22, 2021 at 9:00AM

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The iPhone 12 lineup is expected to have crushed it over the holidays.

Apple (AAPL 2.32%) is scheduled to report fiscal first-quarter earnings next Wednesday, and expectations are running high. The Mac-maker's business is highly seasonal, with revenue spiking every year over the holiday shopping season as consumers scoop up the latest iPhone models that are typically released in the fall.

The iPhone 12 includes 5G technology throughout the lineup, and various data points continue to suggest that the newest iPhones are selling extremely well. The company is on track to report its first $100 billion quarter ever.

AAPL Revenue (Quarterly) Chart

AAPL Revenue (Quarterly) data by YCharts.

Expecting a record quarter

The current consensus estimate calls for the Cupertino tech giant to generate $102.6 billion in revenue, well above Apple's current record for quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2019. Due to the ongoing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic -- which delayed the iPhone manufacturing ramp up this year -- Apple didn't issue any formal revenue guidance.

Customer holding up iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max

Image source: Apple.

Earlier this week, Morgan Stanley boosted its price target on Apple from $144 to $152, while maintaining an overweight (equivalent to buy) rating on the stock. Analyst Katy Huberty is particularly optimistic heading into the earnings release. In a research note to investors, Huberty wrote:

We are buyers ahead of what we expect to be a record December quarter print. Our recent conversations suggest investors expect Apple to release solid, but not great, December quarter results. We disagree and believe that Apple is likely to report all-time record quarterly revenue and earnings.

Morgan Stanley believes that all of Apple's main segments will enjoy robust growth, thanks to 5G adoption, the shift to remote work and learning, and ongoing engagement with the App Store. In fact, Huberty is modeling for revenue of $108.2 billion, about 5% higher than the consensus estimate. The iPhone 12 has been the company's "most successful product launch in the last five years," according  to Huberty.

Another bullish data point

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) also recently released its estimates for how the iPhone 12 is performing in the U.S. The research firm believes that 56% of iPhone sales in the fourth quarter were new iPhone 12 models. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro were the most popular models, but the 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max were still popular.

CIRP estimates that the weighted average retail price for iPhone in the fourth quarter hit a new record of $873. At the same time, adoption of Apple's growing portfolio of paid subscription services, like Apple Music and iCloud storage, continues to march higher.

"For the full quarter, the new iPhone 12 models, and in particular the most expensive ones, garnered a significant share of sales," commented CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz.

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