Most signs point to another strong quarter — not a blowout, but a good one — with Apple’s iPhone and Mac leading the way.
As usual, investors will focus as much on Apple’s June quarter guidance as its March quarter results.
Apple typically guides “comically” conservatively, so it’s always a tough race to bet on. The guess isn’t whether Apple will lowball its estimates or not, but by how much.
Historically, Apple has guided below Street consensus revenue estimates by 4% and EPS by 12%, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. (Apple then goes on to beat the original Street estimates by an average 3% on revenue and 25% on EPS, Munster notes.) So Munster expects Apple to guide to around $12.4 billion in revenue and $2.33 in EPS. A forecast much stronger than that would be impressive.
One factor that could swing Apple’s guidance is the date that it expects to ship its new iPhones. Apple has typically shipped new iPhones in late June or early July, with a big batch of shipments to hit the channel just before retail sales begin. This year, Apple is expected to show off the new iPhone — of which photos and specs leaked this week — in early June at its Worldwide Developers Conference. And all analyses we’ve seen assume a June launch for the new phone.
But if something — say, the supply problems with the iPad, or even a planned delay — were to push Apple’s expectations for the new iPhone’s launch and channel shipments until July, that could cause the company to issue even weaker-than-usual guidance. (Especially if a delay is coupled with carriers reducing their inventory of old iPhones ahead of a new hardware launch.)
There’s no evidence to suggest this will happen, but it’s always a possibility.
Meanwhile, don’t count on the iPad to do much for Apple’s numbers yet. While it has attracted a lot of attention, and has received positive reviews, even if Apple ships an impressive 1.8 million iPads in the June quarter, that would only add $0.07 to EPS, Munster said in a note last week.
- Revenue: $12.06 billion consensus. $13.25 billion high Street estimate, $11.0-$11.4 guidance. Anything above $12.5 billion would be solid.
- EPS: $2.44 consensus, $2.72 high Street estimate, $2.06 to $2.18 guidance, $2.95 “real” guidance (based on Apple’s historic outperformance of its guidance). Anything above $2.50 would be solid.
- iPhone units: 6.8 million Street consensus, 7-8 million implied by Jobs during iPhone 4.0 keynote in early April. Anything above 8 million would be impressive. Anything below 7 million would be disappointing.
- Mac units: 2.7 million Street consensus, 2.8 million to 2.9 million implied by NPD data, says Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster. Anything above 3 million would be impressive.
- iPod units: 9 million Street consensus, 9 million to 10 million implied by NPD data, says Munster. Anything above 9 million is fine for this slowly dying line. Above 10 million would be impressive.
- June qtr. revenue guidance: Typical “comically conservative” guidance expected. Could swing widely depending on iPhone 4.0 launch targets (June vs. July) and possibly iPad supply/demand. Munster expects $12.37 billion, well below the Street’s $12.94 billion consensus. Anything approaching $12.75 billion midpoint would be considered strong.
- June qtr. EPS guidance: Typical “comically conservative” guidance expected. Could swing widely based on iPhone. Munster expects $2.33 midpoint, well below Street’s $2.69 consensus. Anything approaching $2.70 would be considered strong.
- Another update on iPad sales? Apple could announce another data point — perhaps 750,000 or even 1 million shipments so far.
- How will iPad be broken out in results? As a separate category for units and revenue, or lumped in with iTunes in “music?”
- Will Apple again delay counting iPhone revenue from early April until iPhone OS 4.0 ships, as it did last year? If iPhone OS 4.0 launch is pushed to July, that could affect June quarter.
- Now that iPhone 4.0 hardware cat is out of the bag, will carriers push down inventory of iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, potentially affecting June quarter shipments?
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