Prediction of 1.64 Million Macs for Q4 2006 Misses By Only 30,000

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By: switchtoamac at: 2:27 AM on October 19, 2006 | Comments (9)
In my October 10, 2006 preview I predicted that Apple would ship 1.64 million Macintosh computers during the 2006 fiscal fourth quarter.  My analysis and projection was based on analyzing data from Apple's Q1, Q2, and Q3 data for 2006, Macintosh releases during the year, and events that transpired during the fourth quarter.

Be sure to read that article to see how I reached the 1.64 million number.  My prediction exceeded the actual number by a mere 30,000 units as I over estimated portable (MacBook and MacBook Pro) units by 14,000 units and desktops (iMac, MacPro, Mac mini, and PowerMac) units by 16,000.  The breakdown of portables and desktops were almost exactly on target.

What I'd like to point out is that my prediction was more accurate than those put forth by Wall Street analysts and investment firms.  When taken together, they had a consensus estimate of 1.47 million Mac sold in the quarter.  My prediction exceeded the actual number by only 1.9 percent.  The consensus analyst estimate underestimated the number by 8.7 percent!  It's clear that those analysts missed the mark and they still don't understand the shift in the mindset of purchasers.  Perhaps today's earnings will begin to open their eyes.

In that preview I stated the following:
"I conclude that Apple at least maintained a 16 percent increase in Mac unit sales between the fourth and third quarters.  I fully expect that Apple most likely saw somewhere close to a 20 percent increase in Mac unit sales as the Mac is rapidly becoming a popular and viable choice for today's computer buyer."

When the numbers are analyzed here's what we get:
  • Apple experienced a 21.3 percent increase in Mac sales between the third and fourth quarters
  • My prediction equated to a 23.6 percent increase
Although my prediction was slightly off the mark, I'm the only one with a published estimate of at least 1.6 million Macs for the fourth quarter and an almost accurate breakdown of portable and desktop sales.  If anyone can find another estimate that was this accurate, please let me know by posting a comment.

Throughout my postings on this site, I have reiterated my view that Macintosh sales would accelerate throughout 2006, the numbers and graph clearly show that they have.  Pay close attention to the the slope from the past two quarters.  I've predicted that Apple will sell between 6,600,000 and 6,800,000 Macs in fiscal year 2007.

Any firms out there looking to hire?

9 Reader Comments

Want to see something funny. Go to right now, and look at the 5 day view of AAPL. Then compare to DELL.


It doesn't mean anything, and it's only temporary.

It sure looks like a graph of people switching to AAPL. Not quite the name of your site, but close.

Congratulations STAM!
In fact I remember very well your preview and was eagerly expecting Q4 data to check Macs shipped against your estimate.
I thought analysts were low but wouldn't have dared to bet on 1.6, not to mention 1.64
Good job.

Suppose that you traded on your forecast and made a killing? If you are certain of your forecasts, you don't need a job in a firm, just trade on the data.


Let's just say that long before Apple's recent growth I identified that the company was to grow, grab market share, and chalk up switchers. That's why I started the Switch To A Mac blog at Blogger in April 2005.

I then decided to start this site at the beginning of 2006. So it's been over a year and a half that I've been focused on this "switch" effort.


There's an almost perfect symmetry line between dell's losses in share value and apple's gains. Looks too perfect and time synchronized not to be related to eachother.

And violent changes affected both right after apple's 4Q06 results were published. If there's no correlation here, then what?

This is my first visit to your blog, coming from a MacDailyNews link.

I'm an AAPL investor and I think you totally get it. I've bookmarked you and will be back.

2007 looks to be the pivotal year. MacWorld San Francisco can't get here soon enough!

Congrats on nailing the number, but as you asked for notification of any estimates which had preceeded or beaten yours, may I point to my own, made almost 3 months ago, where I explained why I thought AAPL could deliver results just like these :)


Copy of post:

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:59 pm —

Some analyst somewhere will probably do the maths and realise that Q4 results are going to be way "better than expected." I wouldn't be surprised to see a research note sometime soon cautiously raising estimates on the back of MacBook sales, and crediting likely strong sales of the Mac Pro too. It simply beggars belief that there is so little analysis going on. Its as if they're scared to comment too specifically about AAPL's numbers in case they're accused of pumping the stock after its precipitous fall earlier this year, which embarrassed many of them.

The facts are so crystal clear now. Apple's manufacturing capacity is known, broadly speaking, and word of it increasing capacity a week or two ago was widely reported. Its a simple case of just working out capacity, taking into account the fact that it can't meet demand, and drawing the conclusion that total Mac unit sales could rise over 1.6m this quarter. If you assume around 8m iPod sales, that equates to EPS of around 68-72c/share.

Guidance is for 46-48c/share.

Q: Is the Street ready for a 50% earnings surprise?
A: Frankly, its not even prepared for a 20% earnings surprise

There is someone who has been very consistent in predicting cpu/iPod sales. Here was his prediction for the past quarter:

3m ending on Sep-2006:
Prev gdnce: $4.5-4.6b rev, $0.46-0.48 EPS
Analysts: $4.66b rev, $0.50 EPS
My est: $4.82b rev, $0.57 EPS
8M iPods, 1.5M Macs

Thought you might be interested. Here is his site.


Thanks for providing your feedback on your Mac numbers. I would like to point out that your statement wasn't very confident as you stated the possibility:

"total Mac unit sales could rise over 1.6m this quarter"

My prediction of 1.64 million however not only gave a concrete total number but also a breakdown of both portable and desktop units which were essentially on target.

I appreciate your reply.


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