Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Handicapping Apple's quarterly revenue and earnings: Q3 2012

July 20, 2012: 6:19 AM ET

The revenue estimates range from a low of $35.1 billion to a high of $46.4 billion

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) is scheduled to report its third fiscal quarter earnings next week, and despite the $11 billion difference between the most conservative professional revenue estimate and the most bullish independent's, the gap between the two groups is not as wide as its been in recent quarters.

That's probably a good thing, for both groups.

After getting clobbered quarter after quarter for nearly four years by a bunch of bloggers and other amateur analysts, the professionals seem to be giving their clients more realistic numbers.

And having badly misjudged two of the last three quarters, the more bullish independents have, for the most part, started to come back to earth.

Still, when we polled our panel of 65 Apple analysts -- 33 independents and 32 professionals -- we saw a sharp divide between the two groups, and significant differences in their consensus estimates. [UPDATED Saturday 7/21 to remove one independent analyst's estimates at his request and to reflect the lowered expectations in a note issued Friday by Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi.]

On average, the pros are looking for Apple to report earnings per share of $10.31 on sales of $37.25 billion.

The independents are expecting earnings of $12.31 on sales of $41.50 billion.

That's a gap of $4.25 billion (11.4%) on revenue and $1.99 (19.3%) on EPS.

Our personal best guesses -- based on the consensus of the six analysts (all independents) with the best track record over the past seven quarters:

  • Revenue: $41.3 billion
  • EPS: $12.4
  • Gross margin: 45.4%

Below the fold: The individual estimates, with the pros in blue and the independents in green, sorted by revenue estimates. Note the almost total segregation between the two color groups.

We'll find out who was closest to the mark when Apple reports its earnings about 30 minutes after the closing bell on Tuesday, July 24. And we'll be back the next morning to rank the analysts from best to worst in our quarterly Earnings Smackdown.

Sorted (per request) by EPS:

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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