Apple sells record 9 million new iPhones in three days

In an unusual move, Apple raises its financial guidance after 9 million of the 5s and 5c models are sold in the first three days after their launch

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 2:05pm

Apple sold a more-than-expected nine million iPhone 5s and 5c models in the first three days following their Friday launch, prompting the company to issue a more optimistic financial forecast.

Apple shares rose 4.5 per cent in early trading yesterday following the news.

Sales of the new models were nearly double those of the iPhone 5 in the first weekend after its launch a year ago. The iPhone 5 sold five million in its first three days on the market.

"It's a great number," Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners, said of the sales figure for the 5s and 5c. "We have been saying they will be selling every 5s they can make and it looks like that is the case."

Wall Street analysts had expected Apple to sell about six million of the two new iPhones.

Apple tweaked its financial forecast to reflect the higher sales, an unusual move for the firm. It said revenue in the financial fourth quarter would be near the high end of its previous forecast of US$34 billion to US$37 billion. Gross profit margin would come in at the top of its previous forecast of 36 to 37 per cent.

Analysts' average revenue forecast is US$36.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Daniel Ernst, an analyst with Hudson Square Research, said iPhone sales showed Apple still had a deep connection with its customers.

"The critics have told you Apple lost its magic," he said. "Customers are telling you something very different. Clearly, people like the product. That sentiment is almost more important than the number."

Demand for the iPhone 5s had exceeded initial supplies, and many online orders were scheduled to be shipped in the coming weeks, Apple said.

On Friday, long lines formed outside stores in Tokyo, New York, San Francisco and other cities for the new top-of-the-line 5s and the less expensive 5c. It was the first time Apple had launched two iPhone models simultaneously.

Video: Apple launches iPhone 5c & 5s in Beijing

The gold-coloured version of the 5s, which also comes in silver and grey, was sold out by Friday and will now ship only next month, according to Apple's website. By yesterday, the two other colours were also set to be shipped only next month.

"The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we've sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement. "We appreciate everyone's patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone."

The company said more than 200 million iOS devices were now running the upgraded mobile operating system iOS 7, which was rolled out just before the iPhone launch.

Apple did not break out separate sales figures for the 5s and 5c. The 5s, whose price starts at US$199, offers a touch ID that scans a user's fingerprint to unlock the phone. The 5c, which starts at US$99, comes in an array of colours.

Apple for the first time simultaneously launched the new iPhones in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Australia, Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France and Puerto Rico. It previously launched its phones in mainland China a few months after the US launch.

The more optimistic margin forecast should allay investor concerns that, at just US$100 less than the 5s, the 5c will draw buyers away from the premium gadget.

"If Apple could ship so well without even having a larger-screen iPhone, which we think it could deliver next year, then Apple is getting over a key hump," Shebly Seyrafi, an analyst with FBN Securities, said in a note to clients. "We believe that the immediate availability of the phone in China is also a key driver of the strength."