By Anu Passary | Jul 23, 2012 08:25 PM EDT
Come July 24, all eyes will be on Apple waiting to see if the Cupertino-based firm continues to surpass Wall Street expectations, as has been the norm, to deliver a bumper quarter result. Anticipation is high with few expecting the company to score high on earnings. Reason: the impending iPhone 5 fall launch, which is making consumers hold out for the new handset.
According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, Apple is expected to report fiscal third-quarter earnings of $10.35 a share on revenue of $37.2 billion. Wall Street analysts are betting that the figures will undershoot the estimates. Thomson Reuters Starmine's SmartEstimates avers that Apple may miss the average sales forecast by 0.2 percent.
"People are waiting," said Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon. Hargreaves also estimates that Apple will sell about 25.4 million iPhones compared to the 35.1 million in the previous quarter. The projected drop reinstates the circulating notion that consumers are waiting for the revamped and upgraded iPhone 5 and, therefore, not dishing out their hard earned lettuce on the existing version. Hargreaves avers "It's going to be bad now, but great later."
The fabled 4-inch iPhone wonder, dubbed the iPhone 5, sports a bevy of enhanced features and is rumored to hit the shelves in fall this year, ahead of the holiday season. Apple is also expected to pull a double whammy by unveiling its iPad Mini, a 7.85-inch tablet, at the same time.
The great Apple conundrum continues despite the company not shedding light on any of the speculations surrounding its supposed launches. Apple's lips may be sealed but that's not stopping potential customers from stalling their Apple purchases in hopes of an improved and better product. Wall Street estimates that Apple sold about 29 million iPhones, a notable slide from 35.1 million sold in the March quarter.
The estimated slowdown in sales is not new to Apple. Prior to the iPhone 4S release in 2011, a similar slowdown had ensued. The company had reported profit margins that fell short of analysts' estimates. The domino effect of Apple's stock market figures sliding for the first time ever since 2003 was inevitable.
The thirst for the latest overrules any marketing theory and defies logic. Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle.com, a website that buys and sells used iPhones and other consumer electronics opines that "Customers are increasingly tech-savvy and they want to have the latest and greatest". According to Scarsella, people wind down trading in their iPhones about four to six months ahead of an iPhone release. "It's something we definitely see year after year".
According to analysts' estimates, compiled by Bloomberg, Apple is likely to report that its profit grew 35 percent to $9.86 billion. Its sales are projected to rise 31 percent to $37.3 billion. The estimates suggest happy figures in an ordinary scenario but lest we forget, Apple is no ordinary market player. The growth estimates would easily trounce gains by Apple's rivals; however, it would be the company's slowest since 2009.
With Samsung's Galaxy S3 getting ready to eclipse Apple's fall debut, the pressure on the tech titans is mounting steadily. According to NPD Group, Samsung Electronics Co. is the world's biggest seller of smartphones. Tim Lesko, portfolio manager at Granite Investment Advisors sums up the scenario succinctly "No longer is Apple the company that beats every time."
All is not lost for Apple. It has iPad's presence to cushion any slips or sale slides. The recent iPad launch in China, its second-largest market, will give a sales fillip to the Apple umbrella. Moreover, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos, Apple's shares have risen 49 percent and with "iPhone 5" being mentioned on Twitter Inc.'s website about every 11 seconds, Apple's customer stronghold is on safe terrain.
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