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Apr 21, 2008

NEWS: An Early Apple Indicator: AT&T's Q1 iPhone Numbers

Ed: 10 conversation threads on a Monday morning - compared to 2 over the weekend.

An Early Apple Indicator: AT&T's Q1 iPhone Numbers

iphone-itunes.jpgFor the second time since the iPhone went on sale last June, Apple's U.S. carrier partner AT&T (T) will report its quarterly earnings (Tuesday morning) before Apple does (Wednesday afternoon). So when AT&T discusses its Q1 results tomorrow, Apple (AAPL) investors will also be tuning in to hear how many iPhones it has activated, a number the carrier has been kind enough to share in the past.

In a note today, RBC analyst Mike Abramsky says he expects Apple to have shipped 1.48 million iPhones in the U.S. during the March quarter. He also estimates that some 30% of those phones were going to "unlocked" and sold overseas; those phones wouldn't show up in AT&T's numbers. The remaining 70%: About 1.04 million iPhones.

In January, AT&T said it had activated about 2 million iPhones in 2007. It's possible that some people bought (or were given) iPhones as Christmas presents last year but didn't activate them until this year; those could elevate AT&T's Q1 activation totals. Either way, if AT&T reports more than 1 million iPhones activated in Q1, or 3 million activated cumulatively, look for an Apple rally.

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