Why is This Apple Loyalist Lowering Expectations?

With supplies of the iPhone 5 still unreliable, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has cut his estimate for sales of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) smartphones in the September quarter by 2.2 million units to 25 million. Munster wrote in a note to investors that based on his in-store checks, supplies of the iPhone 5, which opened up for pre-orders three weeks ago, were “extremely limited.”

The analyst estimated that Apple may have sold an additional 3 million units of the new device after the 5 million it reported for the initial weekend. He also predicted that previous iPhone models were likely to account for the other 17 million units this quarter. While Munster has not yet changed his estimate of 49 million unit sales for the current quarter, he wondered if he may be forced to do so eventually.

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“We believe that the bigger story for Apple will be the December quarter and when the company is able to meet demand for iPhone 5,” Munster wrote. “Based on our checks for in-store pickup at 100 U.S. Apple retail locations over the past week, we believe supply remains extremely limited. While we are maintaining our 49 million iPhone estimate for December based on demand, if supply were to remain constrained for more than the next three-four weeks it may cause us to shift some December units into March.”

The analyst maintained his Overweight rating and $910 price target on Apple shares.

Separately, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek told AllThingsD that he believed there just weren’t enough iPhone 5 units to go around. “Remember, there are 170 million post paid subscribers coming off contract,” Misek said. “That’s overwhelming all supply ramps. The demand here is unprecedented.”

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