In what is normally the biggest event of earnings season,
), the largest company in the world by a wide margin, will be
releasing its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results after the
closing bell on Thursday. The news will be market moving, with
dozens of other stocks tied into the Apple eco-sytem likely to be
Heading into the report, Wall Street analysts have consensus
earnings per share estimates of $8.75. This high estimate is
$9.68 with a low estimate of $8.00. In the year ago quarter,
Apple reported earnings per share of $7.05. Previously, the
company guided for EPS of $7.65.
Revenues in the quarter are expected to be $35.80 billion,
which implies year over year sales growth of 26.60 percent. In
last year's fiscal fourth-quarter, Apple reported revenue of
$28.27 billion. The low estimate on Wall Street is $34.28 billion
with a high estimate of $38.04 billion. Previously, Apple guided
for fourth-quarter revenues of $34.00 billion.
A year ago, Apple actually missed consensus earnings
estimates, a rarity for the company. The consensus EPS number was
$7.39 versus the company's actual earnings of $7.05 per
Investors have come to expect that Apple will blow out Wall
Street earnings and revenue expectations, and a second straight
poor fourth-quarter would catch most market observers by
Over the last 3 months, consensus earnings expectations for
the technology giant have moved around considerably. Just 90 days
ago, the consensus EPS estimate was $8.57. Subsequently, that
fell to $8.40 around two months ago prior to being ratcheted up
to $8.88 just a month ago. In recent days, that figure has come
back down to the current estimate of $8.75.
Over the last three months, Apple shares have risen around 6
percent, which compares to gain for the broader Nasdaq of about
4.60 percent. Year-to-date, the stock has surged more than 50
percent and the company currently sports a market-cap of around
Investors will be paying close attention to the sales figures
for iPhone and iPad which accounted for 72 percent of Apple's
revenue last quarter.
The current period will be the first that includes sales of
the iPhone 5, but it will only be a few days' worth. The iPhone 5
was launched on September 21 and the company's fiscal fourth
quarter ended on September 29.
During the first weekend that the iPhone 5 was on sale, more
than 5 million units were sold. Analysts are projecting total
iPhone sales in the quarter will be 25 million, representing a 46
percent year over year increase.
In introducing the iPad mini on Wednesday, Apple revealed that
it has sold around 100 million iPads to date. According to Shaw
Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, this figure would put the number
of iPads sold in the September quarter under 16 million.
"This is consistent with our supplier checks indicating lower
build plans ahead of iPad Mini," Wu said. "To be conservative, we
are trimming our estimate to 15.8 million units."
Currently, the consensus sales view for iPad on Wall Street
are between 17 million and 18 million, so if Wu's calculations
prove correct, there could be some disappointment. A number of
analysts, however, have trimmed their estimates in recent days
and therefore a lower iPad sales figure may not come as a total
Sales estimates for the company's other products are a little
over 5 million Macs and 5.6 million iPods. This represents growth
of roughly 2.25 percent and a decline of 18 percent,
While today's results may cause a large move in the stock, the
really important data point for Apple will be next quarter. The
holiday season is by far the most critical time of year for
Earnings per share estimates for the upcoming fiscal
first-quarter are $15.41 versus the $8.75 estimate for the
fourth-quarter. Revenues are expected to be $54.98 billion
compared to the $35.80 billion for the most recent quarter.
In afternoon trade on Thursday, with the company's earnings
results only hours away, Apple shares were trading down around 1
percent to $610.73. This compares to a market which is slightly
higher on the day, suggesting that there is some pessimism in the
stock heading into the report. Apple has been in a near-term
downtrend since hitting an all-time high of just above $705.00
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