September iPhone Launch Could Boost Apple's Q4 Take (AAPL)

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has currently scheduled an 'event' for September 12th that is widely rumored to be the company's official launch date for the latest version of the iPhone, known at least currently as the iPhone 5. It is also believed that Apple will release the phone for sale a couple of weeks before the end of September. If both these events occur as rumored, then Apple's fourth quarter earnings could get a boost of as much as 12%.

That, at least, is the view of an Apple analyst at Piper Jaffray, cited at MarketWatch, who believes Apple could sell between 6 and 10 million of the new iPhones if the timetable follows the speculation. The analyst also thinks quarterly revenues would rise about 8% under the same scenario. But overall, the speculation doesn't mean much:

While predicting the timing of the iPhone release is topical for investors, we continue to believe that whether iPhone 5 launches in the September or December quarter is largely irrelevant to the overall story, which we believe is that the new phone will be the largest consumer electronics product upgrade in history.

The iPhone 5 speculation put a dent in Apple's third-quarter results as customers chose to wait for the new phone, putting off purchases of the iPhone 4S and other models. Pent-up demand for the iPhone 5 will certainly give Apple's sales and earnings a boost whenever it happens, but it might make more sense (from Apple's point of view) to wait until October - it's traditional launch month for new iPhone models - and take the revenue bump in the first quarter of its new fiscal year.

Apple's consensus fourth-quarter EPS estimate have dropped nearly $2/share in the past three months and its full-year estimate has dropped nearly $3/share. And everybody knows the money will roll in whenever the iPhone 5 hits the market, so why not string investors along for another few months? Let everybody get delirious again and push the share price to a new high.

Shares of Apple are up fractionally just after noon today, at $631.83 in a 52-week range of $354.24-$644.00.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Consumer Electronics, PC Companies, Telecom & Wireless Tagged: AAPL