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iPhone gross profit margins nearly 60%

Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi issued a 13-page report last week in which he estimated that the iPhone's gross profit margins were an astounding 57.8%. Those margins tower above Apple's competitors with RIM estimated to have 43% profit margins, Nokia 33%, Motorola 32%, and HTC 31.7%.

Sacconaghi believes that the iPhone's high gross margins could change Apple's business model as the iPhone's share of Apple's overall revenue stream grows from 30% in FY09 to an estimated 45% to 50% in FY11.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt over at Apple 2.0 notes that while the Street generally assumes Apple's profit margins will decline over the next few years, Sacconaghi believes they will increase due to a few key points:

  • iPhone prices are actually increasing. In Q3 2009, the average wholesale price was $588. In Q1 2010 it's risen to $638.
  • Buyers are still more than eager for the iPhone. There is no sign of price resistance from either customers or carriers. Mobile partners are still lining up to get the iPhone with Apple adding 15 new ones over the past 4 months.
Despite his Rosy outlook, Sacconaghi is reducing his iPhone shipment estimates by 1.3 million units in FQ4 10 and 5.5 million units in fiscal year 2011 under the assumption that there won't be an iPhone for Verizon before mid 2011. He also expects T-Mobile will get the iPhone before Verizon does. As for the iPad, Sacconaghi estimates its gross profit margins to be between 30 to 32%, not the 50% suggested by iSuppli.

Sacconaghi rates AAPL as "Outperform" and has a price target of $250. In his report he states, "We believe that on a cash flow basis the stock is very attractively valued and that the stock is the most attractive secular name in our coverage universe."

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