Analyst: iPhone 6 Launch Weekend Sales to Fall Short, No Big Deal

Following its record breaking iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus pre-order launch Apple has been expected to sell around 10 million smartphones during this weekend's in-store rollout, but Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi thinks the company will fall short of that number. Instead of calling doom and gloom, Mr. Sacconaghi thinks that won't be any big deal because launch weekend sales are more about inventory availability than demand.

Apple may miss the 10 million mark during its iPhone 6 launch weekendApple may miss the 10 million mark during its iPhone 6 launch weekend

In a note to investors, Mr. Sacconaghi said,

Although we see the potential for first weekend sales to disappoint versus expectations that now appear to be as high as 10 million units, it is important for investors to keep in mind that 'first weekend sales' are principally a function of available supply rather than iPhone demand, as they represents actual shipments to customers and channel partners versus 'orders' (which may or may not have shipped). Accordingly, we would view any 'disappointment' as a potential red herring, given the ostensible greater-than-normal supply constraints Apple appears to be experiencing.

He thinks Apple will instead sell between 7 and 8 million units this weekend, according to Barrons, thanks to limited inventory, no low-price model, and China not being part of the initial rollout.

Apple sold 9 million new iPhones during last year's iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c launch weekend, which investors are now looking at as the bar for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus retail launch this weekend. The new models hit stores Friday morning with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 starting at US$199. The 5.5-inch iPhone 5 Plus starts at $299.

Mr. Sacconaghi added, "Ironically, a slower ramp may ultimately be beneficial for Apple – a later China rollout (and later Chinese new year) could push sales into CY Q1, helping smooth the iPhone's typical March quarter falloff."

Mr. Sacconaghi is maintaining his "Outperform" rating and $108 target price for Apple's stock. Apple is currently trading at $102.11, up 0.53 (0.53%).