Apple will report its earnings for the final three months of 2014 (Q1 2015 in Apple's fiscal year) on Tuesday, 27 January and the iPhone-maker is widely expected to beat its revenue guidance by some distance.
In the past Apple typically low-balled its guidance figures before consistently smashing those expectations in its quarterly earnings calls.
But Apple has changed and now offers more accurate quarterly guidance figures which is why seasoned Apple reporter Philip Elmer-DeWitt says that while Apple will exceed its own - and Wall Street's - expectations "it won't be an insane beat, like the old days".
Elmer-DeWitt has polled 35 analysts - amateur and professional - who suggest that Apple will report $68.3bn (£45.5bn) in revenue, which would be a 21% increase over 12-months ago, driven mostly on huge sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as continued strong performance of the Mac range of PCs but despite continuing weak iPad sales.
Here we take a closer look at what is expected from Apple's Q1 2015 earnings call and how to follow it online:
- Apple's Q5 2015 guidance
This is what Apple said in October that it would report on Tuesday:
- revenue between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion
- gross margin between 37.5% and 38.5%
- operating expenses between $5.4 billion and $5.5 billion
- other income/(expense) of $325 million
- tax rate of 26.5%
While these estimates at the time were seen as relatively in-line with what analysts were predicting, in the three months since, reports of huge iPhone sales, as well as continued strong Mac sales have seen analysts revise their estimates.
iPhone 6 sales
The iPhone has long been the cornerstone of Apple's business. In September it launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and while the previous quarter did include 10 days of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, the true impact of the new larger-screen devices will only really be seen on Tuesday.
Analysts polled by Fortune range between 71 million units and 61 million units sold, while KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted the company has sold a huge 73 million iPhones in the quarter.
Last year the company sold 51 million units, which at the time was a record number, but with the huge interest in the new phones aligned with a wider global launch (the phones are now on sale in 115 countries) means the iPhone figure announced on Tuesday will blow this record out of the water.
Mac bucks the trend
The PC industry has been in the mire for a couple of years now, but while Apple's Mac range of desktops and laptops have not been selling in huge volumes, sales have been bucking industry trends by consistently improving.
According to a report from IDC Apple sold 5.75 million Macs in the final three months of 2014, surpassing the record-breaking 5.5 million units it shipped in the previous quarter.
Apple is set to give its Mac range another boost in early 2015 when it launches a 12in MacBook Air in the first quarter of the year.
Worst iPad sales drop yet
Sales of Apple's market dominating iPad have been falling for the last six months with sales down 12% in the previous quarter. However the launch of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, along with the lowering of the price of the cheapest iPad to under £200 could see a return to growth for the tablet line.
However analysts don't think this is likely. According to Fortune's Apple analyst pool, the company sold 21.5 million tablets in the three months to the end of 2014, which is significantly down on the 26 million it sold 12 months previously and if this pans out would prove to the biggest year-on-year drop in iPad sales to date.
It would represent the fourth quarter in a row of falling iPad sales and would reflect the "massive deceleration" in global tablet sales that research company IDC predicted late last year.
One of the most interesting aspects of Apple's Q1 2015 earnings call will be the importance of China. Apple opened its latest Chinese retail store just last Friday and it is predicted that the market will contribute the most revenue of any territory to the company's Q1 2015 earnings.
The Financial Times reports that analysts predict more iPhones were sold in China during the quarter than in the US, marking an important milestone in the shifting power balance of the smartphone market.
Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale in China during the quarter following a short delay due to some regulatory issues, but with these problems behind them together with an insatiable demand for the new devices and all China's networks on board, the sales figures from China could be huge.
Apple's first wearable is of huge interest and while the company has unveiled the Watch already, there are a lot of details yet to be finalised including prices of certain models and most importantly release dates.
Apple doesn't typically make any major announcements during earnings call, but analysts are sure to push CEO Tim Cook for a release date to help with modelling this quarter's estimates.
Indeed Apple's own estimates could give an indication if the Watch will be launched in the first three months of 2015 or not, with the latest reports suggesting a March launch date.
How to follow Apple Q1 2015 earnings call online
Apple's earning call takes place at 2pm local time in Cupertino and will be available for all to follow on Apple's website. Here is a list of the time the earnings call will begin around he world:
- San Francisco - 2pm
- Cupertino - 2pm
- New York - 5pm
- London - 10pm
- Paris - 11pm
- Amsterdam - midnight
- Johannesburg - 1am (Wednesday)
- Moscow - 2am (Wednesday)
- Bangkok - 5am (Wednesday)
- Hong Kong - 6am (Wednesday)
- Seoul - 7am (Wednesday)
- Sydney - 9am (Wednesday)
Here are the system requirements for listening to the call:
Streaming audio requires iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or above, a Mac running OS X 10.6.8 or above or a PC running QuickTime 7 or later. Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox or 32-bit Chrome also required. If you do not have QuickTime installed on your Windows PC, it is available at www.apple.com/uk/quicktime.
IBTimes UK will also be covering the earnings call live so make sure to check out ibtimes.co.uk/technolgy for all the latest news and analysis.