Analysts Lower Q4 AAPL Estimates on iPhone 5 Supply Concerns

Analysts are lowering expectations for Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter performance in anticipation of the company’s quarterly results call set for next Thursday, October 25, Fortune noted Tuesday. Supply constraints for the iPhone 5, lower computer shipments overall, and the high percentage of new iPhone purchasers who are not new to the platform all led analysts to expect reduced performance from the Cupertino company.

William Blair’s Anil Doradla sees Apple’s supply chain struggles for the iPhone 5 as a major issue: “Since unveiling the iPhone 5 last month, consumers have faced significant delays in receiving the phone. In our opinion, Apple’s inability to keep up with demand is being amplified by its aggressive global launch schedule and the company reducing its exposure to its traditional partner, Samsung.” Mr. Doradla also notes that “the majority of customers seeking the new iPhone have not switched brands,” indicating that Apple is not gaining as many new customers with the iPhone 5’s launch as it had with previous products.

Gabelli’s Hendi Susanto saw “very weak global PC shipment data” and iPhone 5 supply constraints as causes for concern: “We are cutting our iPhone shipment estimate considering the later than expected launch date, early ramp up of iPhone 5 production and potential supply constraints.”

Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty also identified supply constraints of specific iPhone 5 components as likely to result in reduced sales, although she thinks that reduced Mac sales are partly a result of a longer-than-average upgrade cycle by Apple for its current generation of desktop Macs.

While Macs are an important component of Apple’s business, most of the attention next week will be paid to iPhone sales. William Blair now predicts sales of 26.5 million (down from an initial estimate of 33 million), Gabelli sees 29.9 million sales (down from 32.1 million), and Morgan Stanley comes in with the most conservative estimate of 25 million units.

Apple Share Price Through October 16Apple (AAPL) Trend Since September (via Google Finance)

These estimates are expected to be joined by lowered expectations from other firms in the days before Apple's results call. Apple's stock price, already hit hard in recent weeks, may continue to struggle as a result, although investors hope that a strong new product lineup from the company, combined with meeting or exceeding the now lowered expectations, will jolt the stock value back to an upward trajectory.

Apple is expected to unveil new products October 23, two days before its financial call. Sources suggest that the products slated for the event are the new “iPad mini,” a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and updated desktop Macs.