This afternoon, Apple will report earnings for a quarter unlike any before — the first in which the company sold two new iPhones instead of one.
While this quarter includes just eight days of iPhone sales, expectations for it are high, and for good reason. Apple sold a record nine million new iPhones over the weekend that it debuted the iPhone 5s and 5c. Touting that milestone in a Sep. 23 announcement and an SEC filing, Apple said it expected revenue and gross margins for the period to fall in the high end of the range it provided when it last reported financials, $34 billion to $37 billion, and 36 percent to 37 percent.
Given that, investors are looking for some pretty big numbers for Apple’s fourth quarter, which marks the end of the company’s fiscal year. Consensus calls for earnings of $7.92 per share on sales of $36.82 billion, with first-quarter guidance of $13.86 per share on revenue of $55.65 billion, according to estimates compiled by Fortune’s Apple 2.0. Estimates for shipments of key Apple products vary a bit, but here are the averages of calls made by a collection of 48 professional and independent analysts — again, helpfully compiled by Apple 2.0:
iPhones: 33.4 million
iPads: 13.9 million
Macs: 4.2 million
These numbers, and Apple’s financials, are only part of the story. There are a lot of questions to be answered with this particular earnings report — more so than usual. That should make for a noteworthy call with the company’s management. Look for some clarity, obfuscation and reality distortion around the following:
Apple’s iPad business contracted a bit last quarter. Was that an anomaly, the beginning of a trend, or a cyclical and expected decline driven by consumers postponing their iPad purchases until Apple’s latest models debut?
How’s business in China? In Apple’s third quarter, revenue from Greater China — which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan — slipped 14 percent year over year, to $4.6 billion. That was a 43 percent decline from the previous quarter. And sell-through in Hong Kong fell by about 20 percent. The reason? During its last earnings call, Apple didn’t have a firm explanation. “It’s not totally clear exactly what occurred,” CEO Tim Cook said at the time. Perhaps the company has a better idea now.
Apple reports earnings after market close today. Join us here for coverage.