All eyes on Apple: World’s most valuable tech company to report earnings after closing bell

“When Apple Inc. reports its December quarter results on Tuesday, the company’s main challenge may be hitting a target of investor expectations that seem in a constant state of flux,” Dan Gallagher reports for MarketWatch.

“Not that anyone expects a bad period. Apple’s own forecasts — known for being highly conservative — imply an expected revenue gain of 38% for the first fiscal quarter compared to the same period the previous year,” Gallagher reports. “It will be the first reporting period to include the new iPhone 4S, which went on sale in October, as well as the first time the company has made one of its iPhone models available free of charge to consumers who sign a two-year wireless contract.”

“And the iPhone is expected to rule the quarter — and serve as a key metric watched by analysts, many of whom expect unit shipments of the device to come in between 30 million and 32 million for the period. The iPad will be another closely watched area, as the tablet device was likely a popular Christmas gift during the holiday shopping season,” Gallagher reports. “‘The critical number is going to be the iPhone number,’ said Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, who recently lifted his own iPhone unit forecast from 26 million to 30 million.”

“Analysts are expecting earnings of $10.06 per share on revenue of $39 billion, according to FactSet estimates. The company earned $6.43 per share on revenue of $26.74 billion for the same period last year,” Gallagher reports. “On average, analysts are expecting a little more than 30 million iPhones to ship in the quarter, with iPad shipments between 13 million and 14 million, on average. Mac unit shipments are expected to come in a little over 5 million for the period.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple is set to report earnings after today’s closing bell, right round 4:30pm Eastern. As usual, MacDailyNews will have the numbers as soon as they are available and we’ll cover the conference call with live notes beginning at 5pm Eastern.

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