Photo: Associated Press
Apple reports fourth quarter earnings this afternoon after the bell. Join us here for LIVE analysis beginning at 4 p.m. ET.As usual, Apple’s guidance for the current quarter — which includes the busy Christmas shopping season — should have more impact on the stock than Apple’s results for last quarter.
And as Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster argues again in a note this morning, supply shortages for the iPhone 4 and iPad over the summer could lead to a demand backlog this quarter, which could lead Apple to issue stronger than expected guidance. The company typically low-balls its forecasts, so any unusual sign of strength should pop the stock.
One risk is that the iPad — which, by all indications, is a huge hit — could hurt Apple’s overall profit margins because it’s a lower-margin business than, say, the iPhone, which has been driving most of Apple’s growth over the last several years. This could lead to a lower-than-expected EPS “beat” this past quarter, Munster argued last week.
But our sense is that big iPad numbers (5 million or more last quarter) and iPhone numbers (13 million or more) could get people to look the other way when it comes to margins. (As long as they’re still well above 35%.)
We’ll also be looking out for any signs of the iPad cannibalising Apple’s Mac business, any signs of Apple TV sales, and any hints about the future for Apple’s new partnership with Verizon Wireless, the top U.S. wireless carrier.
- Sept. qtr. revenue: $18.9 billion consensus, $19.9 billion high Street estimate, $19.6 billion “real” expectations
- Sept. qtr. EPS: $4.06 consensus, $4.41 high Street estimate, $4.85 “real” expectations
- Sept. qtr. iPad shipments: 4.7 million consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 5+ million would impress
- Sept. qtr. iPhone shipments: 11 million consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 13+ million would impress
- Sept. qtr. Mac shipments: 3.7 million consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 4+ million would impress
- Sept. qtr iPod shipments: 10 million consensus (via Piper Jaffray)
- Dec. qtr. revenue: $22.22 billion consensus, $23+ billion guidance would look very strong
- Dec. qtr. EPS: $5.04 consensus, $4.50+ guidance would look strong