Fortune assessed the accuracy of the predictions made by 68 analysts, and found that revenue figures ranged from $51.7 billion to $65.69 billion against Apple's actual performance of $54.51 billion. It produced a ranking of the analysts by the percentage errors in their predictions for both revenue and earnings per share, as well as overall performance metrics.
The analysts responsible for the sometimes wildly optimistic forecasts were not, said Fortune, doing Apple any favors.
The company didn't have a bad quarter. In fact, it posted its best quarter ever … But the stock market is an expectations game and Apple is expected to blow past analysts' estimates, not miss them.The Fortune piece wryly observed that 'another way of looking at it is that Apple's analysts did worse than the company this quarter.'
Going forward, Apple has altered the way in which it provides guidance for upcoming quarterly performances. While the company had previously issued single "conservative" guidance estimates for both revenue and earnings that led to the expectation that Apple would always handily beat that number, it is now providing a range of guidance numbers for revenue and other factors.
Apple believes that the range will provide a more realistic idea of where the company expects performance to fall, although it is no longer providing any specific earnings per share guidance and instead allowing analysts to develop their own numbers based on the ranges of revenue, margin, expenses, and tax rate the company expects.