Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has really not been performing to spec recently. Shares are up a fraction on today’s market, but at time of this writing the company’s stock stood at a little under $394, which is 33 percent below where they were twelve months ago. The company’s conference call is scheduled for next Tuesday, and the firm will be confronted with bruising questions from its investors.

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The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) conference call will be held at 2 p.m. Pacific Time, 5 p.m. EST, on Tuesday, after the company releases its earnings report that morning. Apple is always the subject of intense analysis, and with the company’s share price a long way from recovery, analysts will be unforgiving in their questioning.

One of the major indicators that analysts will be looking for in the earnings report are any weaknesses in iPhone sales. Recent reports suggest that one of the chip factories that supply Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) with iPhone processors has excess inventory, indicating that Q1 sales of the smartphone have been lackluster.

Analysts are nervous about the performance of the iPhone as it seems more and more obvious that the Western market for smartphones is reaching saturation point. Coupled with increasing competition and increasing costs, it seems likely that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will see margins compressed in the months ahead. Q1 margins might be very disappointing.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will not announce a new product launch on earnings day, and its guidance numbers are likely to continue to be more realistic, giving credit to the idea that the firm’s stock has left its period of fast paced growth. Dissenters to this view are legion, but the stock price reflects a changing mood about the company.

Analysts will be looking for signs that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is really entering a new phase. If the dividend is increased, support will be  lent to a slow down in the company’s growth. If the firm promises value later on in 2013, speculation about new product lines, like an Apple Television or smart watch, will be rife.

Whatever line of questioning analysts and investors follow next week, it’s sure to be an unpleasant experience for Tim Cook, the company’s CEO. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has many prominent investors, like David Einhorn, who have been known to cause trouble on conference calls in the past. His input, if he includes himself, will be interesting.