All signs point to Apple announcing a monster earnings report

Tim cook dancing pharrell happy earth day celebrationtw0b1t/InstagramApple CEO Tim Cook has reason to dance.

Apple reports earnings for the March quarter after the market closes on Monday, April 27.

Get ready for another monster report.

Analysts are expecting big iPhone sales, and think Apple could provide a major update to its cash return program.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, analysts are looking for $US56 billion in revenue which would represent 23% growth.

Apple’s revenue growth is expected to be driven by strong iPhone sales. Analysts are anticipating Apple sold 58.1 million units, which would be an impressive 33% increase.

If Apple sells 58.1 million iPhones, it will be the second biggest quarter for iPhone sales in Apple’s history. Apple’s biggest ever iPhone sales happened during the previous quarter when it sold 74.5 million iPhones.

Just a year ago, people were thinking that Apple’s iPhone business may have run its course. Unit growth was down to single digits, and it looked like Apple was going to have to lower prices to reignite growth.

The newest iPhones are proving to be killers for Apple. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have bigger screens than previous models, which is all it took to make Apple’s iPhone sales go nuclear.

Apple has effectively raised prices on the iPhone. The iPhone 6 Plus costs $US100 more than previous models. The iPhone 6 costs just as much as prior models, but many people are gravitating towards the mid-tier storage model, which costs $US100 more than the entry level phone.

IPhone iPad ASPBI IntelligenceThe average price of the iPhone hit a new high in the holiday quarter

iPhone sales are all that really matter for Apple’s success. However, people will keep an eye on iPad sales which have tanked in the past year. Analysts are expecting Apple sold 13.6 million iPads, which would be down 17% on a year-over-year basis.

Apple has failed to provide any sort of clear explanation for why the iPad business has cratered. The best explanation seems to be that people are skipping the iPad in favour of iPhones with large screens. The Mac business is also doing well. Analysts expect Apple to sell 4.7 million Macs, which would be up 15%. (So, an iPhone + a Mac seems to cutting into iPad sales.)

The biggest question mark surrounding Apple is the Apple Watch. Apple released the Apple Watch on Friday. Pre-orders looked strong. There are reports Apple is aiming for 20 million units in year one, which would be the biggest ever Apple product launch in history.

However, Apple has already said it’s not going to break out Apple Watch sales. Apple may be willing to make a one time announcement about how many watches it sold, but we aren’t expecting anything.

As for Apple’s cash program, there’s been chatter that Apple could provide an updated plan on what it’s doing with dividends and buybacks.

Last year, Apple announced a $US130 billion program to return cash to shareholders. Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha thinks that plan gets increased to $US200 billion this year. Apple had $US155 billion in cash on hand last quarter, so it makes sense to enact a massive share buyback/dividend plan.

We’ll be covering it live as it happens, so tune in around 4 PM NYC time on Monday.

Until then, here are the key numbers to watch via Bloomberg:

  • EPS: $US2.14
  • Revenue: $US55.96 billion
  • iPhone units: 58.1 million
  • iPad units: 13.6 million
  • Mac units: 4.7 million
  • iPhone ASP: $US656
  • iPad ASP: $US418
  • Q3 revenue: $US46.93 billion

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