Apple earnings: iPad boom likely. iPhone? Hmmm

Apple is expected to ring in another big quarter tomorrow, with record iPad sales. But will customers waiting for the iPhone 5 ding sales?

Apple earnings

Apple reports the results from its third fiscal quarter tomorrow, and the company is once again expected to surpass its own estimates.

Wall Street is expecting Apple to pull in $10.38 a share on revenue of $37.35 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. By comparison, Apple forecast $8.68 a share on revenue of about $34 billion when it reported its second quarter earnings in April.

The numbers story remains in sales of the iPhone and iPad, Apple's two hottest gadgets, and the ones that are helping it rake in record profits. During Apple's last quarter, for instance, the iPhone and iPad accounted for $29.28 billion, or about 75 percent of the company's $39.18 billion in revenues.

Analysts overall expect Apple to have sold 29 million iPhones during the quarter. That's up when compared to 20.34 million iPhones the company sold during the same quarter last year, though down considerably from the 35.1 million it sold in its March quarter.

Savvy consumers, who have gotten wise to Apple's annual product upgrade and are expecting a new model this fall, may have held back on purchasing an iPhone during the quarter. That happened in the quarter that followed Apple's typical iPhone launch period last year with the belated iPhone 4S, which led to Apple missing Wall Street's estimates . In a research note last week, Toni Sacconaghi, of Bernstein Research, suggested that the very same thing could happen once again, but that sales of the device may not be the only thing to blame.

"We see a reasonable probability that Apple will miss consensus revenue expectations due to macro-economic weakness in China and Europe, a product cycle lull in the iPhone, a later than expected introduction of the new iPad into China, and the late quarter introduction of new Mac notebooks," Sacconaghi wrote. All that could lead up to earnings of $10.24 on revenue of $35.5 billion, he added.

Third-generation iPads piled up at Apple's Palo Calto, Calif. store during the product's launch back in March.
Third-generation iPads piled up at Apple's Palo Calto, Calif. store during the product's launch back in March. James Martin/CNET

iPad growth
The other tally, of course, are iPads -- the iPhone's sister product, and what was Apple's second biggest revenue earner last quarter. This is the first full quarter Apple's latest iPad has been on sale, and analyst projections say the company may have sold the most tablets yet.

Estimates on iPad sales run the gamut from Piper Jaffray's 16 million units up to 20 million from Needham & Company. An average of 61 analysts compiled by Fortune earlier this month puts the consensus around 18.75 million. As a frame of reference, the most iPads Apple has ever sold during a quarter was 15.43 million, which it nabbed during its December quarter last year.

One easy thing to back those numbers up is that Apple had its briskest rollout ever with its latest iPad model. It launched in 10 countries in mid-March, expanding to 25 additional countries just a week later. Notably missing from this quarter's sales is the product's launch in mainland China, which began last week.

Mac and iPods
Not to be left out is Apple's Mac business. Apple revamped most of its Mac lineup at its developers conference early last month, though the quarter only ran through June 30, leaving about three weeks for the company to tally those sales.

An estimate from the NPD group suggests Mac sales could have dipped 10 percent in the U.S. when compared to the same quarter last year. But that's not what Wall Street thinks. In a note to clients last week, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster suggested that Apple's Mac business actually grew 5 percent compared to the same quarter last year, with sales of 4.1 million units.

Lastly, there's Apple's iPod business, which continues to hum along, despite having long been overshadowed by the iPhone and iPad in popularity. Wall Street's expecting Apple to sell about 6.38 million iPods, per a collection of 62 estimates compiled by Fortune. That would be down about 15.8 percent compared to Apple's sales during the same quarter last year.

Apple is expected to report its results just after 1 p.m. Pacific tomorrow. CNET will have live coverage of its earnings call as well, where the company fields questions from analysts.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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