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Earnings preview: Sales of the season

Dan Moren | Jan. 28, 2014
The holidays may be over for the rest of us, but Apple hasn't yet disclosed whether its stocking was overflowing with treats or contained only a lump of coal. On Monday, the company will reveal its earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which includes the winter shopping season. As usual, the announcement will be followed by a conference call at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET with Apple executives and financial analysts; Macworld will, of course, be on hand to provide live coverage of the earnings and the call.

The holidays may be over for the rest of us, but Apple hasn't yet disclosed whether its stocking was overflowing with treats or contained only a lump of coal. On Monday, the company will reveal its earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which includes the winter shopping season. As usual, the announcement will be followed by a conference call at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET with Apple executives and financial analysts; Macworld will, of course, be on hand to provide live coverage of the earnings and the call.

So, as we get prepared to tally up the numbers, what should you — astute Apple watchers that you are — be expecting from the company's most recent quarter?

iPhone, you phone, we all phone
In a word, "big." In two words, "really big." Keep in mind that though the iPhone 5c and 5s were revealed last fall and did go on sale before the end of Apple's fourth quarter, they were only available for its final week. That means the bulk of 5s and 5c sales were racked up in the first quarter of 2014 — including all the ones that people were purchasing as holiday gifts for themselves and others.

Last quarter, Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones — a record for the September quarter — including 9 million of the new 5c and 5s; in the year-ago quarter, the company sold 47.8 million iPhones. I'd be surprised if Apple doesn't surpass 50 million iPhones sold in the first quarter of 2014, and probably by a decent margin.

Whether the 5c or 5s is the big winner, well, don't expect Apple to say much beyond "they're both selling well." There's been a lot of speculation about just how successful the cheaper 5c is doing, especially in regards to its flashier older sibling, but Apple CEO Tim Cook will likely toe the line and remind analysts that the company loves all its children equally.

iPadding the numbers
Most of what you can say about the iPhone rings true about the iPad as well. With the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini both debuting in October of last year, all sales of the company's newest tablets will be booked in the first quarter of 2014. Given the year-long gap since the introductions of the fourth-generation iPad and the first iPad mini, it's a good bet that there was some pent-up demand — especially in terms of the Retina display coming to the very popular iPad mini.

In the most recent quarter, Apple registered 14.1 million iPads, itself down slightly from last year's third quarter — likely due to those awaiting a refresh of the line. But over the previous year's holidays, the company sold a record 22.9 million of the devices; expect them to beat that number handily.

 

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