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AAPL: Gazing Ahead To The iPhone 6

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released the results from its third fiscal quarter after closing bell last night. Analysts from multiple firms had said before the report that investors are probably less concerned about earnings at this point and more concerned about the iPhone 6 launch, and that certainly shows through Wall Street’s reaction. Earnings were $1.28 per share, while revenue was $37.43 billion.

Delving into last night’s earnings report, analysts at JPMorgan and Cantor Fitzgerald are picking up possible clues about what Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) expects for the iPhone 6, which is expected to launch in the September quarter.

Apple comes up short in gross margins

In a report dated July 22, 2014, JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall and his team said Apple’s guidance for gross margins was a bit light. The company said it expects the margin to be between 37% and 38% for the September quarter. For the June quarter, Apple reported gross margins of 39.4%. This means Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) guided for a 90 basis point quarter over quarter decline compared to the 20 basis point decline Apple saw in the September quarter last year.

However, the JPMorgan team notes that Apple’s gross margin guidance was still ahead of how it did in the September quarter in 2012 when it launched the iPhone 5. They think this guidance makes sense because the iPhone 6 is expected to have a different form factor than the iPhone 5S, as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) usually changes it with the plain numbered models of its iPhones. Also the iPhone 6 is widely expected to have a bigger screen and possibly incorporate new materials like a greater usage of sapphire crystal. As a result, they say gross margin guidance should reflect a quarter over quarter reduction.

In another report also dated July 22, 2014, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White was more positive on Apple’s margins. He called the company’s June quarter gross margin “excellent” and said he was “encouraged” by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s margin guidance. By looking at Apple’s margin guidance, he said it suggests earnings per share of $1.22 for the December quarter, which is slightly ahead of his estimate of $1.21 per share, although it’s lower than consensus estimates of $1.34 per share.

Apple’s iPhone numbers

The JPMorgan team also said Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone shipments were a bit week, coming in at 35.2 million units, which is a 19.5% decline sequentially but a 12.7% gain year over year. However, it missed their estimate by about 400,000 units. Revenue from the iPhone was $19.751 billion, which missed their estimate by .6%. Average selling price was slightly ahead though at $561, compared to their estimate of $558.

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