When it comes to predicting Apple's financial performance, you may want to ask bloggers, day traders, and amateur analysts instead of listening to Wall Street analysts. As cited in a post by Apple 2.0's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, the real analysts blew it big time predicting Apple's financial numbers for the first quarter of 2012.
As noted by Elmer-DeWitt, "although even the most bullish independents were surprised by the strength of Apple's Q1 2012 results, at least they were in the ball park." In a ranking of accuracy, the independent analysts took the top fifteen positions, while the Wall Street gurus brought up the bottom of the chart.
That's not to say that Wall Street's finest aren't capable of making at least a few good estimates. Asymco's Horace Dediu and Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu were both accurate on predicting the Mac sales numbers. TUAW's favorite analyst, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, was right on target with his estimate of iPod sales.
When it came to iPads and iPhones, though, the independents beat the street. Gabriel Dubois was close with his estimates of iPhone sales and gross margin, while Gregg Thurman "missed narrowly on iPads."
Elmer-DeWitt notes that "The company that Steve Jobs built is still that rare beast in American business: A $400 billion giant that acts -- and grows -- like a start-up." That ability to be agile, design and sell innovative products, and make huge margins on sales of those products make it difficult for even the most highly-trained Wall Street analysts to make accurate predictions.