Where Do Financial Analysts Get Their Fanciful Numbers? The Case of Apple’s Quarterly Blowout Report

I often wonder how professional financial analysts get those numbers predicting recent sales figures and projecting earnings per share. I’m sure other people are wondering the same thing after listening for days and weeks about how weak Apple’s iPhone and computer sales have been. These analysts projected Apple would have to hit at least $1.62 to $1.65 per share in earning or else suffer dire consequences. The actual result? As AppleInsider put it…

Apple profits surge 46% on record sales of 3M Macs, 7.4M iPhones

Yep, record sales and $1.82 per share profits. Analyst estimates weren’t even in the same ballpark.

Then, BetaNews asks…

The new iPod nano: A flop?

This is based on the first generation iPod nano being introduced on September 9, 2005 leading to spectacular sales while the 5th generation iPod nano did not do the same after also being introduced on September 9. There are a couple of differences though…

1. The 1st generation iPod nano was actually available for purchase the day it was announced (I went to buy one). The 5th generation nano was difficult to find for up to a week later. That’s when various Apple stores including one near me finally got their shipment in.
2. The 1st nano complete replaced the older iPod mini and provided quite an upgrade moving from a hard disk based system to a flash based one and providing a color LCD able to display photos. The 5th generation nano replaced a very similar 4th generation model that most people didn’t feel the need to replace.
3. The iPod mini replaced by the first nano was Apple’s best selling iPod at the time. The iPod touch has been the best selling iPod for a while now. And, if you look at Apple’s top sellers list on the web Apple Store page, the iPod touch is #1 while the nano is #2. No surprise.