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Apple earnings preview: More questions than answers

Dan Moren | July 24, 2013
It's been three months since we've taken Apple's financial pulse, which can only mean that it's time for a check-up. The company is set to announce its latest quarterly earnings on Tuesday with a conference call to follow at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET. Macworld will once again be providing live coverage of that analyst briefing and its attendant Sisyphean question-and-answer session.

It's been three months since we've taken Apple's financial pulse, which can only mean that it's time for a check-up. The company is set to announce its latest quarterly earnings on Tuesday with a conference call to follow at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET. Macworld will once again be providing live coverage of that analyst briefing and its attendant Sisyphean question-and-answer session.

In terms of actual, shipping products, the landscape in Apple's fiscal third quarter is not much changed from the last go-round. While Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference has come and gone, most of what the company showed off there has yet to hit the market. So unless analysts plan to bombard Apple with questions about the latest revamp to the MacBook Air--"How do you get such amazing battery life?" "This is Tim. We've harnessed the power of magical wood elves."--or pepper executives about the updated AirPort Time Capsule--"Why doesn't it have a multitouch screen?!"--expect much of the talk to focus around analysts' favorite area of interest: the future.

The numbers game
Apple's still doing gangbusters--don't let anybody tell you different. The company's guidance for the current quarter forecasts revenue between $33.5 and $35.5 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent and operating expenses between $3.85 billion and $3.95 billion.

If Apple hits those numbers, which it should since the company provides guidance it's confident of reaching, then that would make revenue roughly flat compared to last year's third quarter. In the year-ago quarter, Apple brought home an even $35 billion, with a profit $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share.

Of course, Apple no longer forecasts its profits. But analysts are expecting earnings of around $7.31 per share on revenue of $35.09 billion. That'd be a lower profit compared to last year--expect much to be made of that, if it pans out. As for Apple's stock price, it's still hovering around the $425 mark, a bit up from where it was last quarter.

Mr. Television
Fortunately, the Apple rumor mill is always here to pick up the slack for, you know, actual news. And one big topic therein continues to be Apple entering the television business. A plethora of reports from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and other sources hint that Apple is negotiating with cable companies, television networks, and perhaps even that guy in the alley next door who sells TVs out of the back of a truck.

Streaming video continues to be as hot as a MacBook Pro compressing and encoding HD video, and there's little doubt that Apple wants in on the market in some fashion. Exactly what form that will take is still shrouded in the fog that rolls in off the San Francisco Bay, and don't expect Tim Cook to be forthcoming about such information when asked. (We're talking to you, perennial Apple-television-hopeful Gene Munster.)

 

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