Analyst Sets Q1 iPhone Sales at 48M, iPad at 20M

When Apple announces its first fiscal quarter earnings for 2013 on January 23, Wells Fargo's Maynard Um expects the company to report selling 48 million iPhones and 20.2 million iPads. iPhone sales would've been even higher, according to his estimates, had cell service providers offered more flexible upgrade options for existing subscribers.

Maynard Um predicts 48 million iPhones sold during Apple's first fiscal qaurterMaynard Um predicts 48 million iPhones sold during Apple's first fiscal quarter

"We are making minor adjustments to our revenue to adjust for lower iMac units given a later than expected ship date and constraints early on but raising iPhone forecasts to 48 million from 46 million, a quarter of which could be iPhone 4S/4," he said. "While there seems to be some concern around competition and diminishing demand, had some operators not been as restrictive on upgrades relative to past new product launches, Apple would have experienced an even stronger launch."

Mr. Um added that he expects about half of his projected 20.2 million iPad sales for the quarter will be iPad minis.

Concerns that iPhone 5 sales are weak should fade this year as Apple's parts suppliers improve production. "The difficult compares [to the iPhone 4S launch] should start to ease as we enter the back half of the year and our expectation for similarities between an iPhone 5S and 5 (though we think still innovative with fingerprint authentication technology, etc.) should allow for improving gross margins and against easier compares. We expect this, combined with improving supply chain data points into a new iPhone launch, to reverse sentiment," he said.

Mr. Um said he is expecting Apple to report US$53 billion in revenue for the December quarter with a $13.67 EPS, up a penny from his earlier estimates. Looking to the March quarter, he sees Apple's revenue at $44.7 billion, down from his $46 billion estimate, based on iPhone sales coming in at 39 million units instead of his earlier 43 million unit estimate.

Mr. Um also extended the low end for his target price range for Apple's stock from $710 to $680. His high end remains at $730. He is maintaining his "Outperform" rating. Apple is currently trading at $500.87, down 1.81 (0.36%).

Apple's first fiscal quarter earnings report is scheduled to start after the market closes on Wednesday, January 23. The Mac Observer will be hosting our usual live event coverage, so be sure to check in for the latest news from Apple.