CHART OF THE DAY: Apple's REAL Earnings Expectations

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Apple is known for dramatically lowballing its guidance, and then miraculously blowing out “expectations.”

Since Apple started giving guidance under its new accounting rules more than a year ago, it has topped its quarterly EPS guidance by an average 44%, and its revenue guidance by an average 17%.

So what does that mean for this quarter, which will be announced Wednesday afternoon? (Join us for LIVE coverage.)

Based on Apple’s March quarter guidance of $4.90 EPS and $22 billion in sales, history suggests Apple should report EPS of about $7.06 on $25.7 billion of revenue.

One wild card could be the iPad, which didn’t ship until later in the quarter and was constrained by supply. This could have resulted in unexpectedly low shipments during the period, as an Apple lawsuit against Samsung may have pre-announced.

Wall Street expects lower earnings and revenue: Consensus stands at $5.35 of EPS on $23.3 billion of sales. So, as always, Apple is set up to “surprise.”

SAI chart Apple guidance March quarter 2011

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