New research says more of us will be unwrapping a brand new iPhone this holiday season. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) will bank somewhere around $650 each time.

Thanks to lucrative distribution deals with AT&T (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) here in the U.S. and similar arrangements worldwide, the sprawling iEmpire took home just over $47 billion in revenue on 72.3 million iPhone handsets sold during fiscal 2011, or $650.92 each.

Now a Morgan Stanley analyst says survey data shows accelerating sales of the device: 31 million to 36 million iPhones sold during the holiday quarter followed by 41 million more sold in Q1. If the trend holds, consumers could end up buying 190 million iPhones over the next fiscal year.

Better still, if history holds, that would equal a whopping $123.7 billion in just iPhone revenue. For perspective, consider that all of Apple generated $108.25 billion in sales in fiscal 2011.


Numbers like these should have skeptical investors running for the hills. Instead, shares of Apple have badly lagged the S&P 500 in the three months since co-founder Steve Jobs died.

Look, I get the sentiment. I'm a Mac user. I've been an admirer of Jobs for some time now. But how do you let sympathy for Jobs overshadow the data? How do you look at these projections and not conclude that analysts are lowballing Apple at 10 times forward earnings?

Maybe it'll help to consider the bear case, which says that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) will win converts with the new Galaxy Nexus smartphone made by Samsung and imbued with the new Ice Cream Sandwich edition of the Android operating system. Other skeptics point to Nokia (NYSE: NOK) hawking $50 "smartphones" based on Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Phone OS.

Taking these and other competitive pressures into account, ABI Research projects Apple selling 120 million iPhones in fiscal 2012. Thus, according to the dourest of estimates, Apple only takes home around $78.1 billion from iPhone sales next year going by current prices. See the problem?

No matter how you slice the data, Apple looks like a no-brainer growth holding for 2012. Few stocks should beat the iEmpire, though our analysts believe they've found one. Get all the details in this free report in which my peers identify an innovative retailer worth buying right now. Click here to get your copy of the report -- it's 100% free.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.