Apple will report March quarter (fiscal Q2) results this afternoon after the bell. Join us for LIVE analysis after 4 p.m. ET by clicking here.
Most signs point to a big quarter for Apple, including the start of iPhone sales (and channel fill) at Verizon Wireless, the iPad 2 launch, and the new MacBook Pros.
But a legal filing released this week — Apple is suing Samsung, basically for copying it — included some potentially worrisome numbers about iPad shipments. Specifically, Apple’s language in the filing could be interpreted as suggesting that it only sold about 4+ million iPads this quarter, which would be materially lower than the 6-8 million expected by many analysts. (More details here.)
Many have shrugged this off, suggesting that it might not include iPad 2 shipments, or that it doesn’t include sales during the month of March, which are both plausible explanations.
But it’s also possible that Apple really did have a weak iPad quarter. We know that Apple had a very hard time meeting iPad 2 demand during the quarter, that many consumers knew the iPad 2 was coming ahead of time and may not have purchased an original iPad during the lead-up, and that the December quarter was huge for iPad shipments.
The good news is that the iPad is less important to Apple’s revenue and profits than the higher-margin iPhone, and wording from the same legal filing suggests upside to the iPhone numbers — 18 million or so during the quarter. So it could work out in the end — the rest of Apple could definitely make up for those iPads.
The other big number people will be looking at is Apple’s guidance.
The expectation now is that Apple will guide even more conservatively than in the past, because of production issues after the Japan earthquake, and because the iPhone 5 is now expected to launch during the September quarter, not the June quarter. So unless guidance is really terrible, the stock shouldn’t take much of a hit.
For context, last year, after posting $13.5 billion in March quarter sales and $3.33 in EPS, Apple guided June quarter sales to $13.2 billion (down 2%) and EPS to $2.34 (down 30%).
March qtr. revenue: $23.34 billion Street consensus, $24.86 high Street estimate, $25.34 billion “blogger” consensus, $25.7 billion “real” expectations (based on prior performance vs. guidance)
March qtr. iPad shipments: 6.2 million Street consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 6.8 million “blogger” consensus
March qtr. iPhone shipments: 16.6 million Street consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 18 million “blogger” consensus
March qtr. Mac shipments: 3.6 million Street consensus (via Piper Jaffray), 3.7 million “blogger” consensus
June qtr. revenue guidance: $23.8 billion Street consensus, $23.4 billion Piper Jaffray expectations
June qtr. EPS guidance: $5.25 Street consensus, $4.73 Piper Jaffray expectations
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