Apple’s (AAPL) December Quarter iPhone 5 Sales Could Reach 46.5M

Sterne Agee senior technology analyst Shaw Wu said in a note to investors this week that he is raising his December quarter forecast for Apple (AAPL)’s iPhone 5 sales by half a million units. Wu now expects shipments of 46.5 million iPhones vs initial estimates of 46 million. He also notes that he is raising his forecast by only 500,000 smartphone units due to “continued supplier checks indicating production constraints on new in-cell touchscreens.” The figure is well above almost all other Wall Street estimates in terms of sales and profit predictions.

In revising his estimates for the September quarter Wu said he now sees [via Barron’s] “$36.6 billion in revenue and $8.80 in EPS (from $36 billion and $8.65 in EPS) vs. consensus at $35.7 billion and $8.69 in EPS and guidance at $34 billion and $7.65 in EPS.”

For fiscal year 2012 Wu estimates “$157.1 billion and $44.25 in EPS (from $156.6 billion and $44.11) vs. consensus at $156.1 billion and $44.18 in EPS,” and for fiscal year 2013, “$192.5 billion and $51.40 in EPS (from $191.4 billion and $51.20 in EPS) vs. consensus at $193 billion and $52.84 in EPS.”

Wu also raised his AAPL price target to $840 a share from $820, saying that despite “lukewarm reviews” of the iPhone 5, “we continue to believe many underestimate iPhone 5 in that it is a significant update and will drive a powerful product cycle.” According to Wu, iPhone 5 sales will be faster with a wider range compared to iPhone 4.

“We find it interesting that many tech blogs and reviewers panned the iPhone 5 saying it “lacked the wow factor” similar to the iPhone 4 that was plagued by “antennagate” and the iPhone 4S which was a relatively “minor” and “disappointing” update with Siri as the key new feature”, Wu writes in his note to clients adding that “The previous iPhones went on to sell record number of units and we believe iPhone 5 will likely see a similar result.”

Wu is right in his analysis. The iPhone 5 has already delivered record-shattering sales numbers — Apple sold more than 2 million of the new iPhone 5 in 24 hours, two times as many as it managed for the iPhone 4S last year — making the tech giant with its seemingly irrepressible stock price nominally the most valuable company of all time.

Apple’s current valuation is $656 billion/$700.09. As the tech giant continues to show no signs of slowing down, many are beginning to wonder when is the company’s market cap going to break the trillion dollar ceiling.

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