Apple, Inc. Q3 Earnings Preview: All Eyes On September Guidance

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is scheduled to report its June quarter results on Tuesday, July 22 after the market closes. Expectations are already high. Most analysts expect the tech giant to handily beat its Q3 revenue guidance of $36-$38 billion. Supplier barometer suggests that sales were very strong in June. Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um said in a research note earlier this month that Apple’s aggressively promotional activity and new carrier partners should boost sales. The company has added 16 new partners since the end of April, taking the total to 332 partners.

Will Apple really set a new record for June quarter?

Goldman Sachs analysts Bill Shope, Matthew Cabral and Justin Price said in a research note that they expected the company to report $37.42 billion in Q3 revenues and $1.20 in EPS. That’s well below the Wall Street consensus of $37.92 billion in sales and $1.23 in EPS. Goldman Sachs expects gross margins of 37.9% in Q3 and 38.4% in Q4.

Goldman Sachs forecasts Apple to sell 32.7 million iPhones during the June quarter, up 4.7% YoY, but down 25.2% QoQ. The sequential decline was expected as Apple gears up to launch the iPhone 6 this fall. The iPad unit shipments are expected to jump 5.3% YoY to 15.4 million units. Demand in the tablet industry has been slowing for the past several quarters, which could hurt the iPad sales.

All eyes on Apple’s September quarter guidance

But all eyes will be on the September quarter guidance, which would give a sneak peek into the timing of the iPhone 6 release. Like many other research firms, Goldman Sachs expects Apple to release the iPhone 6 in September. Its launch would affect revenues for just a couple of weeks in September, giving a muted boost to the numbers.

For the all-important September quarter, Goldman Sachs forecasts $41.79 billion in revenues and $1.43 per share in earnings. That’s higher than the Wall Street consensus of $40.48 billion and $1.34, respectively. The research firm says Apple’s iPhone shipments would rise 16.8% YoY to 39.5 million during the fourth quarter. The Cupertino-based company’s gross margin guidance will also provide insights into how margin dilutive the new products will be.

Analysts expect Apple to have spent $6 billion on buybacks during the June quarter. Goldman Sachs has a Buy rating on the stock with $107 price target. Apple shares fell 0.76% to 94.03 at 11:24 AM EDT on Thursday.

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