Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) releases the earnings results from its December quarter on Monday, and analysts just can’t wait to see those numbers. One of the key drivers of those results will likely be the average selling price of the iPhone, according to some analysts. After all, the more Apple can get for its iPhone, the higher its earnings have the potential to be.

Apple Inc. AAPL

BMO rates Apple Outperform

Analyst Keith Bachman of BMO Capital has an Outperform rating on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). He expects the company to report revenues of $56.5 billion with earnings of $13.72 per share. That’s compared to consensus of $56.4 billion in revenue and $14.08 per share in earnings. Analysts project Apple will sell 55 million iPhones and 25 million iPads.

Last year Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s average selling prices were pressured by the launch of the iPad Mini. However, things are different this year, and Bachman believes that there could be an upside surprise to the estimates because higher average selling prices are possible.

Apple’s ASP could be $590

Bachman said his estimate assumes that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has an average selling price of $581 for the December quarter, which would be a 1% sequential increase. However, he said the average selling price could end up being $590 or even $595. Although that doesn’t sound like a big difference, it could add about $700 million to Apple’s revenue and also help give overall gross margins a boost. He estimates that a higher price could even add about 40 cents per share in earnings to his estimate.

BMO Capital is assuming average selling prices for the iPad will increase $35 sequentially, and Bachman sees less room for upside there. According to Bachman, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may report December quarter results which are in line with estimates or possibly a bit better.

Looking ahead to March

The analyst estimates that for the March quarter, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will have $44.7 billion in revenue and earnings of $10.35 per share. That’s lower than consensus, which is at $46 billion in revenue and $10.91 per share in earnings. Apple is estimated to sell 41.5 million iPhones during the March quarter and 19.4 million iPads.

Most analysts agree that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s March quarter numbers are shrouded in mystery at this point, mainly because of the deal with China Mobile. That deal could give a boost to what’s usually a seasonally slow quarter. As a result, if Apple guide for revenue that in line with expectations, that would probably be seen by investors as a positive.