SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- The much-anticipated Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report Watch hasn't even hit shelves -- and won't until sometime in April -- but that hasn't stopped the market from speculating about its pending success or failure.
Take BMO Capital Markets, for instance, which said Friday that it is projecting sales of 19 million units of Apple's wearable by the end of the year. "We remain bullish on the Apple Watch, while we think investors remain skeptical," BMO analyst Keith Bachman wrote in a Friday note defending the firm's forecast.
BMO rates Apple an "outperform" stock and has a price target of $135, which is the median target price among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters and around a 7% markup from Thursday's close price of $126.46. The research firm projects revenue of $224 billion for Apple's fiscal 2015. The estimate is conservative compared to the consensus projection of $225.2 billion.
Bachman is expecting Apple to sell more than 10 million Apple Watches in the last three months of 2015, as he's projecting the wearable to reach between 8% and 9% of iPhone 6 customers. Better still, he believes that by the end of fiscal 2016, the Apple Watch will have made its mark on 16% or 17% of iPhone 6 owners, which would make it a bonafide hit.
Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the final three months of 2014 driven by "unprecedented" demand for its bigger 6 and 6 Plus models. As a result, the company posted supersized results of $18 billion in net income and $74.6 billion in revenue.
Other analyst firms seem in agreement with BMO on the substantial prospects of Apple's pending smartwatch.
BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk estimates that Apple will sell 20 million Apple Watches during the fiscal year, which ends in September. Brian White at Cantor Fitzgerald, meanwhile, said the firm is modeling Apple Watch sales of 20.6 million units, with revenue totaling $9.6 billion, during its first year of availability. That, White said, would make Apple Watch the best selling new product in Apple's history.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about the Apple Watch at Goldman Sachs Internet & Technology conference earlier this week, to glowing remarks.
As it stands, however, the wearables movement isn't exactly catching fire. Research firm Canalys said Wednesday that manufacturers shipped a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands during the whole of 2014, with Android Wear devices, which run the watch operating system developed by Google (GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report , accounting for 720,000 of shipments. By 2020, the wearables market will be worth $27 billion with around 400 million wearable devices sold in the year, market research firm Ovum said in a late January report.
--Written by Jennifer Van Grove in San Diego, Calif.
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