Will the Weekend See iPhone 5 Mania?

Based on calculations done outside Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail stores around three major cities in the country on Friday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has predicted the company could sell 8 million iPhone 5 units this weekend. Munster’s survey included results from New York, Boston, and Minneapolis, through which he also calculated that crowds of buyers were 83 percent larger than they had been at the launch of the iPhone 4S last October.

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“For the three total stores we observed with year-on-year comparisons, the average line was 83 percent longer,” Munster wrote in a note to investors on Friday. “Given the strength of the line for the iPhone 5, we are incrementally more confident in Apple’s ability to sell 8 million phones in the launch weekend.”

Piper Jaffray has been counting iPhone launch day lines at every launch since the iPhone 3G in 2008, Munster said.

Looking at the customer excitement, Apple’s first sales figure for the device, and positive reviews from the technology media, Munster added that the company could sell 49 million iPhone units in the December quarter, provided it solved its supply constraint issues.

Meanwhile, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek found in a separate analysis that the iPhone 5 has a bill of materials worth $293, which includes soft costs such as royalty payments. However, at an assumed $650 average selling price for the phone, excluding subsidies, it would still provide Apple a gross margin of 55 percent. Misek ended his analysis by maintaining a Buy rating on Apple stock and his $900 pricetarget price.

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