Apple announces first-quarter 2013 earnings results on April 23. Earnings are expected to come in at $10.11 per share, down from the $13.53 EPS the company posted in the fourth quarter and slightly below the $10.14 per share the company made in the first quarter of 2012.
The stock has lost nearly 40 per cent of its value since topping out at $705.07 in September, and many investors continue to struggle with where it goes next.
According to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, those hoping for an Apple earnings rebound in the second quarter of 2013 are likely to be disappointed, and shares may even head lower after Apple announces its first quarter earnings later this month, as she expects weaker forward guidance from management than the market currently expects.
If that sparks a further sell-off in Apple, though, then Huberty is a buyer.
In a note to clients this morning, she writes:
March quarter gross margin and June quarter EPS guide the most important metrics in C1Q, potentially helping build confidence around Apple’s ability to hold gross margin while introducing lower priced products. iPhone and iPad units are less relevant this quarter, in our view, given likely inventory adjustments and delays ahead of product launches in September.
What to do with the stock and upcoming catalysts: We see potential near-term share price weakness on a lower than expected June quarter EPS guide. But, we are buyers ahead of June into the following catalysts: 1) Preview of iOS 7 at WWDC in June which could highlight a new “killer app” such as mobile wallet, 2) A lighter 9.8-inch iPad and new iPad Mini in September quarter, 3) New iPhone 5S and lower-priced iPhone launch in September.
Whether or not Apple can deliver on product launches later this year that will find favour with investors is an open question, but if Huberty is right, the stock could finally start to see a turnaround in the next few months.