iPhone X Availability Is Impressive Ahead of Christmas — The Motley Fool

With the iPhone X launching more than a month after Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) typical new iPhone releases, there was good reason for investors to believe production of the device could fail to ramp up on time for sufficient availability before Christmas. But with Christmas now only two weeks away, it’s looking like it’s easy for customers get their hands on an iPhone before Dec. 25.

As ship times continue to improve for the iPhone X, this adds to a growing list of reasons to expect a huge holiday quarter from the tech giant. Here’s a look at iPhone X availability ahead of Christmas and what this means for Apple’s holiday quarter.

Customers holding new iPhone X devices on launch day

Image source: Apple.https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/11/iphone-x-arriving-in-stores-around-the-world/

Get an iPhone X in just a few days

Since the iPhone X’s first deliveries on Nov. 3, production has improved rapidly. Going into December, estimated shipping times for new iPhone X orders on Apple’s website in the U.S. was about one week — dramatically better than estimated shipping times of three to four weeks when the iPhone X was first launched.

Now it has nearly caught up to demand in many markets. As of Monday, most versions of the device can be delivered within two to four days of an online order in the U.S. This impressive availability for the iPhone X remains the same in several other counties, according to MacRumors.

In-store availability of the iPhone X is even better, with many versions available to buy at Apple Stores immediately.

This obviously bodes well for Apple’s production ramp-up of the new iPhone X, suggesting initial concerns about production constraints proved to be more speculative than thought. CEO Tim Cook has previously warned investors about relying on speculative reports about the company’s iPhone supply chain, saying that given how far-reaching its production network has become, these reports are “not a great proxy for what’s going on.” But the later-than-usual launch for the iPhone X and an unusually large number of reports about production constraints made this warning difficult to adhere to this time around.

Could this be a demand problem?

There’s always a chance that demand, not production, could be the reason shipping times for the new phone are improving so rapidly. But the chances of this being the case are extremely low.

Apple customers holding the iPhone X on launch day

Image source: Apple.

Apple has commented bullishly on demand for its new iPhones on several occasions. For instance, Cook said he was “thrilled” with customer response to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on the weekend the two devices started being delivered to customers. And in the Nov. 2 earnings call, Cook said iPhone X orders were “very strong for both direct customers and for our channel partners…” Knowing investors are dissecting his every word, comments about demand like this are not phrases a CEO of the world’s largest company is going to throw around lightly.

But the best reason of all to be bullish on the iPhone X, of course, is Apple’s guidance for record revenue during the holiday quarter (its first fiscal quarter of 2018). Management said it expected first-quarter revenue between $84 billion and $87 billion, up from record revenue of $78.4 billion in the first fiscal quarter of 2017.

As management said in its fourth-quarter conference call, its guidance is the best indicator of what to expect from the iPhone. “We’ve put our best estimate into the guidance. You can see from the guidance that we’re very bullish,” Cook said when pressed about the supply demand balance for the iPhone during the quarter.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Apple Shares New Ads Highlighting iPhone X Face ID and Portrait Lighting

Apple this afternoon shared three new ads on its YouTube channel, all of which are quick clips that focus on select iPhone X features like Portrait Lighting and Face ID.

The first video, “Opens with a Glance,” displays the iPhone X with the words “Introducing the most unforgettable magical password ever created. Your face,” before showing off a series of faces to demonstrate how the iPhone X can be unlocked with facial recognition.

A second video, “Adapts to Your Face,” was previously available on Apple’s Canadian YouTube channel. It’s designed to highlight the machine learning techniques used to allow Face ID to adapt to beards, hats, sunglasses, and other facial changes.

The third video, “Introducing Portrait Lighting,” demonstrates the Portrait Lighting feature that’s available on the iPhone X. Portrait lighting is designed to allow users to adjust the lighting in an image using depth mapping techniques, and it is also available on iPhone 8 Plus.

Today’s iPhone X videos follow several iPhone X feature ads that Apple shared in late November. Those previous videos focused on Face ID and Animoji, demonstrating specific Face ID features like its ability to work in the dark and adapt to makeup.

Apple will use these short 15-second ads to show off iPhone X features on television, on the web, and on social networks like Instagram.

Apple iPhone X: Analysts Diverge on How it’s Doing

When it comes to how Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone X is selling during the holiday season, Wall Street can’t seem to get on the same page. Despite pointing to the same data in some instances, some analysts think the iPhone X is seeing strong demand while others are painting a lackluster picture. The divergence between Wall Street underscores just how hard it is to ascertain if the Cupertino, Calif., technology powerhouse has a hit on its hands.

Underscoring the difference in opinions, Marketwatch pointed to KeyBanc Capital Markets as one example of the bear side of things. In a research report last week, the Wall Street firm said that based on global search volume, the iPhone X is tracking similar to the iPhone 6S but “well below” the search volume seen for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 7. As a result of current search volume data, analysts at Keybanc think the new features aren’t enough to drive a huge upgrade cycle for Apple. Also in the subdued camp, according to MarketWatch, is UBS analyst Steven Milunovich who said demand is “flattish,” basing the remark on a survey conducted recently. (See also: Apple’s Best Days Ahead in China: Morgan Stanley.)

A Dissenting View

The bull side includes the likes of Piper Jaffray and Raymond James, both of which think Apple has a huge hit on its hands citing search volume data as well. Toward the end of November, Raymond James said in a note to clients, covered by MarketWatch, that all data points were looking good around Black Friday and that search volume trends are on par with “decent year-over-year demand for the new iPhone lineup.” Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray surveyed more than 400 iPhone customers and found close to half will or may get a new smartphone this year. That’s up from 30% from the year-earlier survey, reported MarketWatch. While Piper Jaffray acknowledged there hasn’t been a supercycle thanks to the iPhone X, it has more to do with supply than demand. On the supply front, analysts seem to agree more that Apple has made improvements in recent weeks. (See also: Apple Will Beat The Skeptics and Rise 27%: Guggenheim.)

The divergence in calls when it comes to how the iPhone X is doing during the all-important holiday selling season may be creating some confusion, but it’s not impacting the stock price, at least as of yet. Shares of Apple finished Friday’s trading session at $169.37, up $0.05 or 0.03%. So far for the year, the stock is more than 40% higher. Citing FactSet, MarketWatch noted that in the past month 11 analysts have raised their price targets on the iPhone maker and two have raised their investment ratings. None of the 39 analysts who cover Apple have lowered their price target on the stock in the same time frame. Of the 39 analysts, MarketWatch noted that 32 have buy ratings and only one slapped a sell rating on Apple. The average target price of the Wall Street analysts stands at $190.70, implying around 12% more upside for the company.