Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released its third quarter earnings this afternoon, after the market closed on Wall Street. The Cupertino company showed earnings of $1.28 per share for the three month period on revenue totaling $37.43 billion. On today’s market shares in the iPhone maker performed well on a good day for tech companies and finished the day up at $94.79.

apple earnings

In the run up to the release of this afternoon’s earnings numbers analysts following Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) appeared to be increasingly optimistic about the firm’s performance in the third quarter. A Bloomberg survey of 43 analysts following the company projected earnings of $1.23 per share from this afternoon’s report. Revenue was expected to come in at $38 billion.

Apple continues growth on iPhone sales

The same three months of last year, adjusted for the company’s stock split earlier this year, saw the company earn $1.07 per share on revenue totaling $35.3 billion. The third quarter of fiscal 2014 saw the firm ship 35.2 million iPhones, and exceptional number for a third quarter, which is seasonally weak at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and one that more than makes up for the less than stellar performance of some of the company’s other business. In the same three months of last year the company managed to sell 31.2 million iPhones.

In the three months iPad sales shrunk to 13.28 million. The same period of 2013 saw the company sell 14.6 million units of the tablet computer. Gross margin for the third quarter of 2014 hit 39.4% at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). In the same three months of last year that number came in at 36.9%.

The iPhone is by far the most important part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) business at this stage, a fact that may be somewhat disappointing given the early strength of the company’s iPad tablet computer. The strength of iPhone business is more than making up for that, however, and the effect of the iPhone 6 is projected to bring a massive boon to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) business later on this year.

Apple guidance sees September iPhone 6

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) performance in the third quarter of the year was much better than initially expected, but the company’s guidance for the fourth quarter may be even more important. It may be possible to estimate the release date of the iPhone 6 from the company’s projections for its own fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. In the three months July through September last year the company earned $1.18 per share on $37.5 billion in revenue.

For the same three months of this year analysts were expecting the company to earn $1.23 per share on revenue of $38 billion, likely working a few days of sales of the iPhone 6 into their estimates for the fourth quarter of the year. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) reckons it’s likely to bring in revenue totaling between $37 and $40 billion in the fourth quarter according to this afternoon’s release.

Given the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) guidance for the fourth quarter of 2014 it seems likely that it will indeed release an iPhone 6 before the September 27 cutoff point for the fiscal quarter. If the company doesn’t do so, it’s likely to miss the numbers it’s set up for itself as demand for iPhone upgrades fall at the end of the quarter as consumers expect the release of the smartphone to hit soon.