Apple claimed a staggering 80 percent of all mobile handset profits during the December quarter, according to Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley. The analyst said that Apple achieved this remarkable feat, even though it had only 8.1 percent of the market. Samsung claimed another 15 percent of those profits, leaving the next top six companies to scrap it out for the remaining 5 percent.
The chart above shows that Apple took a huge leap during the 4th quarter in its share of hardware profits. In the third quarter ending in September, Apple owned only, and we use that word with tongue superglued to cheek, 56 percent of all industry profits.
Apple sold some 20 million iPhones in the September quarter, but that number increased to 37 million for the December quarter. That quarter included the launch of the iPhone 4S, the busy Christmas shopping season, and an extra week in Apple’s fiscal accounting calendar.
Michael Walkley also raised his price target for shares in Apple Inc. in Thursday’s research note, bumping it from $650 per share to $665. The move comes with an increase in the analyst’s iPhone estimates for the March quarter from 30.1 million units to 32.6 million. For the full year, Mr. Walkley raised his iPhone estimates from 140 million units to 148 million.
Mr. Walkley told clients that he believes Apple is continuing to take market share in the U.S. smartphone market, particularly at the expense of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platform and Nokia’s mostly defunct Symbian OS.
“Our January checks indicated the iPhone continues to extend its market share gains from [the December quarter],” Mr. Walkley wrote. “In fact, we believe iPhones are outselling all other smartphones combined at the Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon channels since the iPhone 4S launch.”
T-Mobile, the 4th largest carrier in the U.S., is the only major U.S. carrier without a deal to carry the iPhone. If, as the analyst believes, the iPhone is outselling every other smartphone combined, Apple will once be the top vendor during the quarter and could conceivably claim the top spot in smartphone platforms. If so, it would be a first for the company, but such an event seems unlikely.
Looking ahead, the analyst said, “We believe an iPhone 5 with LTE technologies and a new iPhone form factor could result in even stronger iPhone sales than our increased estimates for [the second half of calendar 2012].”
So scary is the iPhone, the analyst said that industry sources suggest that would-be competitors have delayed launching some of their own products in order to avoid directly competing with the iPhone 4S while it is still new. He didn’t offer any specifics on that factoid, however.
In addition to increasing his price target, Mr. Walkley reiterated his “Buy” rating on the stock.
AAPL traded higher throughout Thursday’s trading day. In the late afternoon session, the stock was trading at $494.296, up $17.616 (+3.70 percent), on heavy volume.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.