As quarterly earnings season continues, the eyes of the tech world are turning towards Cupertino as Apple prepares to announce its fiscal fourth quarter earnings this afternoon following the close of the market.
Analyst predictions put Apple’s revenue for the quarter at $36.8 billion, up a modest 2 percent year over year, with earnings per share at $7.93, according to Thomson Reuters. That’s on the high end of Apple’s guidance of revenue between $34 and $37 billion.
Of course, Apple’s financial results are only half the fun. In addition, the quarterly report and earnings call always reveal some interesting tidbits about Apple’s business. Here’s what we can expect from today’s report and earnings call:
While everyone who cares has now heard about Apple’s sales of 9 million units of the iPhone 5S and 5C combined during the phones’ first weekend of availability, this is going to be the first opportunity to see how well the phones sold past that first weekend.
The 5S is very much an incremental (if significant) improvement over the iPhone 5, so it will be surprising if Apple shows significant sales gains compared to the launch of the iPhone 5, though its record-breaking launch sales numbers have the potential to put the company on that track.
Where the Mac stands
While computer sales have been decreasing as tablets continue to claim more of the market, there are a couple of key points of comparison that will be interesting to look at. The first will be how Apple’s sales held up over the back-to-school season, which is usually a boon to the company’s computer business.
In addition, we’ll also have a chance to see how Apple’s computer business compares to overall market trends. At present, the company’s Mac business, while shrinking, isn’t doing so at the same precipitous rate of some PC OEMs.
Talk of a stock buyback
Activist investor Carl Icahn has very strongly and publicly encouraged Apple to spend $150 billion on a stock buyback, replacing the company’s existing plan to execute a $60 billion buyback. It seems unlikely that Apple, which currently holds a cash hoard of roughly $150 billion, would take on the debt necessary to execute Icahn’s plan, though it will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion.
Apple already increased the size of its buyback plan following a lawsuit from David Einhorn from an originally proposed $12 billion to the current $60 billion. The company hasn’t yet publicly responded to Icahn’s letter, and today seems like the logical day to do so.
China and other developing markets
Last quarter, Apple reported that its sales in the Middle Kingdom were hit with significant setbacks. The iPhone 5S and 5C were supposed to revitalize Apple’s mobile offerings for the Chinese market. Whether or not the company’s two new phone models have done so is another story.
In addition, Apple reportedly inked a deal in September with China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile carrier. While it seems unlikely that Apple would announce the deal as part of its earnings report, it’s possible that Tim Cook and company will obliquely hint and the progress they’re making.
What we won’t see
As much as it would thrill analyst Gene Munster, I doubt Tim Cook will be talking about any plans for an Apple-branded smart TV. In a similar vein, while analysts might hint obliquely at other potential products, like a rumored iWatch, Apple has never been willing to disclose details about products in development as a part of its earnings report.
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.
- key specs
- reviews • 33
- Form factorTablet
- Operating systemiOS (7)
- Screen size9.7 inches
- Storage typeInternal storage (16 GB, Flash)
- Maximum battery lifeUp to 10 hours
- Dimensions9.45 x 6.67 x 0.3 in
- Weight1 lb
Apple iPhone 5c