As Apple unleashes new iPads, Wall Street homes in on iPhones

Apple reports its fourth-quarter earnings Monday, the first to include the iPhone 5S and 5C -- but only a few days of sales. Here's what Wall Street expects.

The first buyer of the iPhone 5S in Sydney, Australia last month.
The first buyer of the iPhone 5S in Sydney, Australia, last month. Seamus Byrne/CNET

Apple reports its fourth-quarter earnings on Monday, and once again all eyes are on the iPhone.

That's not a new story for Apple's financial health, the bulk of which is fueled by the now six-year-old product line. But this quarter's special. It includes, for the first time, two new iPhones -- the 5S and 5C.

Those phones hit store shelves last month and only eight days of initial sales are included as part of this quarter. Still, with a record 9 million phones sold in the opening weekend, Wall Street's anticipating that Apple will post its highest-ever fourth-quarter revenue as a result.

Apple's expected to post earnings of $7.92 per share on sales of $36.82 billion for its quarter, which ended September 28. That's near the top of a $34 to $37 billion sales estimate Apple offered when it reported its previous quarter in July. Immediately following the 9 million iPhone metric last month, Apple pumped its own expectations , saying it would be in the high end of that estimate.

On top of that, Wall Street is sure to be curious about is just how well the iPhone 5C is selling versus the higher end, and still tough to get iPhone 5S. That's also something Apple is highly unlikely to answer. Multiple reports have claimed Apple's trimmed 5C production with some of its supply chain and manufacturing partners, in some cases as much as half, due to sluggish demand.

The iPhone 5C, which replaced last year's iPhone 5 and contains nearly the same hardware internals, costs less than the 5S but has reportedly not been as popular with consumers. According to a report from analytics company Localytics last month, the 5S was outselling the 5C more than 3 to 1 in its initial days on sale. Though this week the firm said the iPhone 5C has been catching up and now trails the 5S by a ratio of 2.3 to 1.

Apple has traditionally not broken out sales of particular products except for broad percentages on things like desktops versus portables, and the iPod touch versus other iPods. The same is expected to hold true with the two iPhone models.

By the numbers


By product, here's what Wall Street's expecting Apple to report:
Apple's iPhone 5S.
Apple's iPhone 5S. Apple

33.4 million iPhones according to a collection of estimates compiled by Fortune. That would be 24 percent more iPhones than the 26.9 million units Apple sold during the same quarter last year, which had nearly identical release timing. Apple surprised everyone last quarter by selling more than 31 million phones, up big from the 26 million Wall Street expected.

14.6 million iPads says Barclays Capital. That would be up 4 percent from the same time last year but flat with what the company reported in its previous quarter. Analysts have reverse engineered this sub-15 million figure out of Apple, based on the company's announcement at its iPad event that it had recently sold its 170 millionth iPad .

4.6 million Macs says Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, though that's a bit bullish. Colin Gillis of BGC Partners, who came close to nailing Apple's Mac sales the last two quarters, says it's probably closer to 3.9 million. Both estimates are down from the same quarter a year ago, when Apple reported million 4.9 Macs sold. A mixed average of estimates compiled by Fortune puts it at 4.26 million Macs.

4.2 to 4.3 million iPods. Apple's expected to sell somewhere in that range say estimates from Piper Jaffray, Barclays Capital, RBC Capital Markets, and BGC Partners. By comparison, the company sold 5.3 million iPods during the same time last year. Once a key sales machine, the iPod's become less important since its main features are found in the iPhone. That's also reflected in how much revenue it accounts for. In the last quarter, for instance, iPods made up 2 percent of Apple's sales, while the iPhone and iPad combined were 69 percent.

Looking ahead, Wall Street is expecting a whopper of the quarter for the one Apple's currently in, and that it reports in January. Historically it's been Apple's best with new products out and the busy holiday shopping season; The same is expected this time around. Analysts expect Apple to report earnings of $13.86 per share on $55.65 billion in sales. That would top last year's $54.5 billion in sales and earnings of $13.81 a share.

Apple usually reports around 1:30 p.m. PT, and has a conference call with analysts slated for 2 p.m. PT. CNET will bring all the relevant news from both, so stay tuned.

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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