Apple Has To Sell 6 Million IPhones This Weekend, Or Else Wall Street Will Be Annoyed

The iPhone 5S and 5C are officially available for purchase this morning.

How many will Apple sell during the first weekend of sales?

Apple analysts have relatively conservative forecasts, calling for 5 million units at the low end, and 7.75 million units at the high end.

Brian Blair at Wedge Partners summed up analyst sentiment best, writing, “Anything less than 5 million would be a clear negative and anything over 6 could be a significant catalyst for the stock.”

Last year Apple sold 5 million iPhones during the opening weekend, so Apple is expected to beat that. As Blair says, “We see 5 — 6 million units as the necessary range, and Apple has to clear that hurdle in order to prove to investors that the iPhone is still growing in volume.”

Comparisons to last year are going to be a little skewed because Apple started selling the iPhone 5C this year. While the 5C is just last year’s iPhone 5 with a new case, Apple is heavily marketing it and the average consumer might not care that it’s just an iPhone 5.

Apple is also having trouble manufacturing the iPhone 5S, and early supplies of the phone are said to be limited. The supply problems are going to limit sales.

One more complicating factor, Apple is launching the iPhone in China at the same time as the U.S. this year, despite the supply issues. That could either lead to more sales, or mean nothing since Apple has tight supplies.

No one wants to hear excuses, though. Apple has to sell 6 million iPhones or more. Anything less than that and we expect a negative reaction.

There is one wild card, too: Apple might not announce opening weekend sales. Apple almost always announces opening weekend sales. At some point it has to stop doing that, right? This could be the year. If that happens, expect a negative reaction since people will assume it has something to hide.

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