Today, after the market closes, Apple will release its fourth quarter earnings – the first time the company will do so since the loss of Co-Founder and visionary leader Steve Jobs. It’s expected that the newly launched iPhone 4S will one day soon help to usher in another record-breaking quarter for Apple, given that the company already announced that the iPhone 4S’s first weekend sales exceeded 4 million. That’s more than double the sales of the iPhone 4 at launch during its first three days. But the question is whether or not the iPhone 4 sales slowed a bit in anticipation of that big launch.
In July, Apple easily beat Wall Street’s expectations, announcing record-breaking numbers like 20.24 million iPhones sold in the quarter – the most ever – and 9.25 million iPads, nearly double the number from the previous quarter. Only Mac sales fell short of what Wall Street was looking for – 3.95 million units sold instead of the 4.2 million expected. iPod sales were also down 20% year-over-year to 7.54 million, a trend that wouldn’t be surprising to see again today despite the reveal of new iPods alongside the launch of the iPhone 4S earlier this month.
Another area to watch today is Apple’s continued interest in moving into the Asian market, and in particular, China. Last quarter Apple CEO (then COO) Tim Cook stated that “China was very key to our results.” He noted that Apple stores in China are the fastest growing and have the highest numbers on average in terms of both traffic and revenue. For example, the Shanghai store, now the largest in Asia, saw 100,000 visitors on its opening weekend – as much traffic as the L.A. store took a month to hit. So maybe now we’ll hear something about China Mobile becoming an official Apple partner, as previously rumored?
In terms of earnings, this quarter, the consensus EPS estimate is $7.34 and the mean revenue estimate is $29.5 billion for the current quarter, increases of 58% and 45%, respectively. And Wall Street expects to hear of iPhone sales of 20-22 million, 4 million+ Macs and around 10 million iPads.
As is typical, analysts remain bullish on the company, which now has the largest market cap in the world. Only one company – BGC Partners – downgraded Apple from “buy” to “hold,” saying that the company has to “constantly set records to meet expectations.” (The full rationale is here). But really, who these days doesn’t want to bet on Apple breaking records? There’s still plenty of growth left in this company yet, with or without Jobs at the head.