Sluggish demand for the new iPhone 8 should translate to fewer devices and upgrades — and increased margins — in the domestic wireless industry, according to a new analysis.
In a note Tuesday, Jefferies attributed the overall forecast to “light” iPhone demand as customers wait for the recently unveiled iPhone X, along with “rationality in promotions” and the likely impact of recent hurricanes.
Analysts raised the earnings forecast for market leader Verizon from $0.95 per share to $0.97 per share for the third quarter amid “tempered volumes and upgrades” and modest non-operating charges. They expect soft iPhone sales and weather-related issues to reduce the company’s new handset additions to 223,000 from the previous forecast of 247,000.
The note also raised AT&T’s earnings forecast by $0.01 per share for the third quarter and by $0.04 per share for the fiscal year due to “tempered wireless volume expectations” in the second half of the year.
Analysts added that although Sprint “appeared the most promotional with the iPhone,” they anticipate “little benefit” to new handset additions and reduced the company’s revenue forecast. Adjusted earnings, however, should increase amid “fewer upgrades and lower cost of equipment.”
T-Mobile was the only carrier among the four industry leaders to see a reduced earnings estimate due to a “higher cost of equipment,” but its revenue forecast remained unchanged.
“A disappointing iPhone X launch could further mute the upgrade cycle, limiting typical 4Q margin pressures,” analysts wrote.