Apple’s iPhone 5 launch was ‘epic’

iPhone 5 Launch Analysis

Expectations were sky-high ahead of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 launch last week, and the company’s stock took a hit when opening-weekend sales failed to reach some industry watchers’ expectations. Analysts told clients to expect iPhone 5 sales to reach as high as 10 million units during its first three days of availability, but Apple announced on Monday that its new flagship smartphone sold 5 million units during its first weekend of availability. But even though Apple’s stock has dropped more than $35 since hitting a record high of $705.07 ahead of the iPhone 5’s release, one analyst still says Apple’s new iPhone launch was still “epic.”

“Don’t be fooled by 3-day iPhone 5 tally, this is an epic launch,” wrote Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White in a recent note to investors.

“We thought it would be helpful to put this launch into perspective versus the iPhone 4S on a few other metrics,” White said. “We believe indicators such as 24-hour pre-orders for the iPhone 5 vs. the 4S, along with pre-order sell out time, post pre-order shipping time and time to sell out at retail stores are more indicative of the strength of the iPhone 5 cycle than yesterday’s three-day sales number that we believe was held back by supply constraints.”

White pointed to a number of factors in substantiating his claim that the new iPhone’s debut was epic:

  • First-day iPhone 5 preorders doubled iPhone 4S preorders during the first 24 hours of availability. This represents 100% year-over-year growth while iPhone 4S preorders improved 67% over iPhone 4 preorders over the same period.
  • Launch-day iPhone 5 preorder inventory sold out at Apple.com in less than one hour, far faster than iPhone 4S inventory, which was still available through much of the day after being made available at midnight.
  • iPhone 5 shipping delays reached 3-4 weeks one day after preorders were made available (Update: It looks like White was a bit off here. Shipping quotes slipped to 3-4 weeks within seven days, not one). iPhone 4S shipping delays only reached 1-2 weeks.
  • Most Apple stores sold out of launch-day iPhone 5 inventory according to White, whose survey of Apple stores indicated that 80%-85% of stores were sold out of new iPhones by Sunday evening. The analyst says this wasn’t the case last year when the iPhone 4S was released.

White reiterated his Buy rating on shares of Apple stock and he maintains his 12-month price target of $1,111.

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