Apple growth seen pausing as iPhone buyers await new model

‘Many Changes’

Ferrer considered getting the iPhone 4S, and then decided to delay the purchase when he saw that the newest model may be lighter and have a stronger processor that will make applications run faster.

“There are so many changes that keep coming out that I want to make sure I get the right one,” he said. “Then I’ll stick with it.” Ferrer browses the Internet several times a week to check out the latest rumors about the next iPhone.

Another potential barrier to near-term sales is a weak global economy that’s crimping consumer spending, as well as changes by carriers including Verizon Wireless that extend how long a customer must wait to get a subsidy for a new device, said Pacific Crest’s Hargreaves.

Apple also is facing competition from rivals including Samsung Electronics Co., which according to NPD Group is the world’s biggest seller of smartphones. Samsung released the Galaxy S III phone in May.

Shares Gain

Still, Wall Street analysts have a history of underestimating Apple’s results. The company’s earnings have exceeded average estimates every quarter except one since at least 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Investors are shrugging off concerns about Apple’s quarterly results and are instead looking ahead to the next iPhone, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. So far this year, Apple’s shares have risen 49 percent. After conducting a customer survey, Munster says more than 80 million iPhones will be sold when the new model is released.

Munster said iPhone sales may be better than many analysts are projecting in the fiscal third quarter, in part because of demand in China, where the device went on sale in January and is now Apple’s second-largest market behind the U.S.

After Verizon Wireless said last week that it activated 2.7 million iPhones in the period, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said Apple’s unit sales of the smartphone may top 31 million.

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