Apple could be selling a mind-blowing number of iPhones this quarter, according to a bunch of Chinese export/import data gathered by Aaron Rakers, analyst at Stifel.
Rakers says his data pegs iPhone sales at between 65 million and 75 million. If Apple were to hit the high end of that range at 75 million units, it would be a 47% year-over-year leap in unit sales. The low end would still be a 27% increase.
We have no idea whether Rakers’ Chinese data points are a valid measurement. We’re writing this up because it illustrates how hot analysts are for Apple. This time last year, the story around Apple was fairly neutral. Now that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are on the market, analysts are running wild with projections.
Here’s a look at Rakers’ data points from a note he sent out Sunday night:
- China exports of handheld wireless telephones and parts are up 20% from September to November. In September and October, exports are up 52% versus July and August. Rakers says this growth is “indicative of Apple’s manufacturing velocity.”
- Exports from Zhengzhou were up 33% year-over-year for the September-November time frame.
- From Rakers: “Henan Province mobile telephone output (units) for September-November has increased by 34% yr/yr (~45.7 million) with September and October output increasing 49% and 43% yr/yr, respectively. In early-September, industry reports noted that the Hon Hai (Foxconn) factory in Zhengzhou would manufacture as much as two-thirds of the iPhone volumes. Henan Province accounting for ~9.5% of total China output, up from 4.3% over the three months prior to the iPhone 6 / plus launch.”
- Foxconn (Apple’s manufacturing partner) had a 19% increase in sales from September to October.
- One more: “The value of US Imports of mobile telephones from China increased 26% yr/yr for September + October; units have increased by +17% yr/yr. We believe November data, to be released in early January, could be an interesting additional iPhone related data point.”
These are somewhat obscure, and dense, data points. And, again, we have no idea whether they’re a good way to forecast iPhone sales. This data is interesting in that it shows analysts are looking for any reason to justify insanely bullish forecasts for the iPhone this quarter.