Will consumers still fit a $200 iPhone into their Christmas budget in a recession? Maybe not as many: Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes slashed his December quarter iPhone sales estimate this morning, according to a note summarized by Barron’s.
Reitzes now expects Apple (AAPL) to ship 5 million iPhones this quarter, down 20% from his previous estimate of 6.2 million. Last quarter, Apple shipped 6.9 million iPhones, but about 2 million of those were to fill its distribution channel.
What could boost that estimate? If Apple starts selling the iPhone in China or at Wal-Mart (WMT) stores.
Not sure how happy Steve Jobs would be to have his high-end toys on Wal-Mart shelves, but that probably wouldn’t hurt sales. For what it’s worth, Google’s first smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, is on sale at Wal-Mart. Apple recently started selling the iPhone at Best Buy (BBY).
Reitzes cut his fiscal 2009 EPS estimate to $4.95 from $5.00, which is below the $5.36 Apple posted in fiscal 2008.
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