Apple Confronts Near-Mother of All Earnings Reports (Update 1)

Tickers in this article: AAPL
Updated from 9:08 a.m. EST with analyst comments on guidance, in the ninth paragraph.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's not the mother of all earnings reports, but for Apple , it's pretty close.

Much has been made about Apple, its recent share-price underperformance and "lack of innovation." There have even been a few calls asking for CEO Tim Cook's head.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu cut his estimates for the March quarter, but noted that expectations for the June quarter have come down "to reflect an inventory drawdown and pause ahead of 2H refreshes. The good news is that data points appear to be hitting a bottom." Wu still rates Apple buy but lowered his price target to $610.


He believes Apple is likely to miss fiscal second-quarter numbers when the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant reports earnings tomorrow after the close of trading. Wu is expecting Apple to earn $10 a share on $41.3 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting an average of $10.04 per share in profit on $42.38 billion in revenue. When Apple reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings, it gave revenue guidance between $41 billion and $43 billion.

The key to this report will be guidance for the June quarter, as Apple gets ready to refresh its product lineup, with the oft-rumored iPhone 5S and new iPad and iPad mini tablets. Wu cut his iPhone estimate for the June quarter to 28 million iPhones, down from 30 million units, but left his iPad and Mac numbers unchanged, at 19.8 million and 4 million units, respectively.

Macs may wind up being a bright spot, due to better availability. "For Macs, our checks indicate better than seasonal demand helped by better availability and yields on the new iMac," Wu wrote.

June guidance may not be everything it's cracked up to be, given recent rumors in the marketplace about a delayed iPhone 5S. Citi analyst Glen Yeung, who rates shares neutral with a $480 price target, believes the iPhone 5S could be delayed as much as two months, as Apple ramps up production. "However, any such delay raises risk to consensus expectations for 12% sequential revenue growth in 4Q13(Sep), noting that 4Q12(Sep) and 4Q11(Sep) grew at only 3% q/q and -1% q/q respectively," Yeung wrote in his report.