Are Verizon Numbers Making Apple Smile?

Analysts were back touting optimistic sales figures for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) after Verizon (NYSE:VZ) announced it activated 6.2 million iPhones during the fourth quarter, “almost half of which” were the newly launched iPhone 5. Apple is scheduled to announce its own results for the December quarter on Wednesday after markets close.

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“Approximately 50 percent of the iPhones were described as 4G LTE, which equates to the iPhone 5,” Topeka Capital’s Brian White, who has a price target of $1,111 on Apple, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday after the Verizon results. “As such, it appears as if the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 were particularly strong in the quarter.”

With the Apple smartphone making up nearly two-thirds of new smartphone activations at Verizon, it was the best performance yet for the iPhone on the largest carrier in the U.S and double the 3.1 million from the third quarter of 2012. Verizon has, over the past six quarters, accounted for 11 percent of Apple’s total iPhone shipments, according to White. Extrapolating that percentage to this quarter would suggest that Apple shipped 56 million iPhones during the three-month period, the analyst said. Even if Verizon’s Apple penetration was raised to 12 percent, it would still yield a healthy 51 million iPhones.

Total smartphone activations were up 44 percent quarter-over-quarter at Verizon, with the iPhone accounting for 63 percent of that. In the 2011 holiday season, the iPhone made up 56 percent of all Verizon activations.

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Earlier this month, AT&T (NYSE:T) had announced having sold 10 million smartphones in the quarter, with at least 8 million of those estimated to be iPhones.

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