iPhone 4S to take center stage in Jan. 24 Apple earnings call

Apple will be announcing its fiscal first quarter earnings later this month, and they will include the iPhone 4S for the first time.

Apple will detail its fiscal first quarter earnings on January 24.

As with previous announcements, the iPhone maker will be divulging the results after the bell rings the stock market closed that day. The company will also be holding an earnings call at 2 p.m. PT to discuss the period, which encompasses the fourth calendar quarter of 2011. Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to be on the call, along with other executives.

There is a lot riding on the earnings. During the company's fiscal fourth quarter, the results of which were announced in October, Apple missed Wall Street expectations , posting revenue of $28.27 billion and a profit of $6.62 billion. The company was dinged by slower iPhone sales, which hit 17.07 million units, down from the 20.34 million handsets it sold in the previous quarter.

During the earnings call at that time, Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer acknowledged that iPhone sales were somewhat sluggish, but indicated that the decline was due to pent-up demand for Apple's iPhone 4S, which was unveiled in October. Rather than spend cash on the iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS during the quarter, he pointed out, consumers instead decided to wait for Apple's new handset.

The iPhone 4S, meanwhile, continues to move into new markets. Apple this morning said that its latest smartphone will arrive in China next week, along with 21 much smaller countries, including Ecuador, Jamaica, and Kenya.

The earlier arrival of the iPhone 4S in the U.S. and other markets means that Apple's fiscal first-quarter earnings could be huge. Apple reported back in October that iPhone 4S sales hit 4 million units in just three days on store shelves, which should help bolster the company's financials. What's more, with the busy holiday-shopping season included in this earnings report, it's quite likely iPad, Mac, and even iPod sales will be much higher than they were in previous quarters.

Total iPhone sales could have been especially strong last quarter . Last month, UBS analyst Maynard Um said that he believes Apple could have sold as many as 30 million iPhones during its fiscal first quarter . Robert W. Baird analyst William Power was even more bullish than Um, saying that he believes Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones during the period.

Although the iPhone 4S helped lead that charge, Apple's new handset market strategy could also help bolster the company's bottom line. Unlike last year's fiscal first quarter, Apple now has three iPhones it's selling to customers, including one--the iPhone 3GS--that they can get for free with a two-year contract. The company also now has three carriers it's working with in the U.S., dramatically improving its chances of attracting customers.

So, it appears Apple might have been firing on all cylinders last quarter. But we'll find out for sure later this month. And as always, CNET will be there to cover every last detail from Apple's financial results and subsequent earnings call.

 

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