FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) share price got clobbered in after-hours trading three months ago when the company announced its earnings for the Christmas quarter. The problem was not the record sales of Macs, iPads and iPhones -- although the iPhone numbers came in a bit lighter than expected.
No, what knocked nearly $45 billion off Apple's market cap that night was Apple's "guidance" for the March quarter -- the sales and profit margin numbers it suggested investors could look forward to later this week, when it reports its second fiscal quarter results of 2014.
If Steve Jobs were still running the company, Wall Street might have discounted those forward looking statements, knowing that Jobs liked to low-ball his guidance numbers so as to maximize the upside "surprise" when Apple hit them out of the park.
But Tim Cook doesn't seem to like surprises; he prefers more "realistic" guidance. So when outgoing CFO Peter Oppenheimer said Apple would probably generate revenues between $42 and $44 billion in Q2 2014 -- no better than it did in the same quarter last year -- Wall Street took him at his word and started dumping the stock.
The lesson was not lost on the amateur and professional analysts we polled in advance of Wednesday's earnings call. Their revenue and earnings estimates in the Jobs era were all over the lot. Starting in Q2 2013, however lines representing the two groups in the attached charts began to converge and are now nearly congruent.
So what are our analysts expecting this week?
No surprises, that's for sure. The average revenue estimate of the 37 analysts we've heard from so far -- 14 amateurs and 23 pros -- is 43.5 billion, just above the midpoint of Oppenheimer's range.
The amateurs, as usual, are a bit more bullish. They're calling for earnings of $10.53 per share on sales of $43.66 billion. The pros are not far behind: earnings of $10.18 on sales of $43.42 billion.
High estimate: The Braeburn Group's Patrick Smellie at earnings per share of $11.05. Low: Credit Suisse's Kulbinder Garcha with a $9.66 EPS.
We'll post the full spreadsheet with all the analysts estimates later this week. And on Wednesday, we'll find out who was closest to the mark.
And what about the June quarter?
In a note to clients Monday, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster predicted that Apple's guidance would once again disappoint. He's expecting revenue guidance of $35.5-$37.5 billion, a bit lower than the Street's $38.3 billion, and gross margin guidance of 36.5-37.5%, with a bit more upside than the Street's 36.5%.
Estimates range from $4 billion to nearly $5 billion, but growth continues to slow.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) No. 4 revenue stream -- after the iPhone, iPad and Mac -- is a line item the company calls iTunes, Software and Services.
The category is something of a hodgepodge -- a grab bag where the company tosses, to quote from a footnote in its SEC filings, "revenue generated by sales on the iTunes Store, the App Store, the Mac App Store and the iBookstore, plus revenue from sales MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 20, 2014 2:29 AM ET
The estimates range from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. Average: 4 million, up 2.8% from 2013.
FORTUNE -- Once Apple's (AAPL) biggest money maker, the Mac at 12% of total revenue is now No. 3 after the iPhone (52%) and iPad (20%).
[No. 4 at 7.6% and climbing fast is the category Apple calls "iTunes, Software and Services."]
The good news for the axis of Apple's digital hub strategy is that the year-over-year declines the Mac suffered for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 19, 2014 5:26 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 15 million to nearly 22 million. Average: 19.3 million.
FORTUNE --Although the heyday of the iPad -- when it basically owned the tablet computer market -- may be over, the product line is still Apple's (AAPL) second most important source of revenue, holding steady at roughly 20% of total sales.
With growing competition and the rise of the phablet (mini-tablets that double as phones), nobody is expecting a repeat of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 18, 2014 6:57 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 34 million to nearly 43 million. Average: 38.2 million.
FORTUNE -- In the analysts' notes to investors leading up to Apple's (AAPL) quarterly earnings report next week, the iPhone is topic No. 1.
And with good reason. iPhone sales remain the company's single biggest source of revenue -- 52.6% of total revenues, to be specific, at this time last year.
In a note issued Wednesday, Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi rattled off a list MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 17, 2014 2:02 AM ET
Remember those snarky TV spots mocking Apple customers waiting in line for an iPhone?
FORTUNE -- Here's an interesting sequence of events, buried between the lines of a Samsung e-mail trail that Apple (AAPL) entered into evidence as part of its big patent infringement suit, now in its third week.
-- Oct. 4, 2011: From Samsung's VP of U.S. sales Mike Pennington to Samsung America CEO Dale Sohn and chief marketing officer Todd Pendleton.
"As you have shared MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 16, 2014 2:45 AM ET
Samsung's argument that Apple attacked the wrong company could resonate with the jury.
FORTUNE -- Watching Apple's (AAPL) patent infringement trial from afar -- today, it's from Prague -- I can't tell if the jury got as clear an explanation of where Apple's so-called "quick link" software came from as the one Daniel Eran Dilger posted Sunday on AppleInsider (How Samsung & Google teamed up to steal Apple Data Detectors for Android).
But reading Dilger's deep dive into the history of the technology I'm MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 14, 2014 4:11 AM ET
The New York Times Op-Ed columnist does it again.
FORTUNE -- As I said the last time I wrote about him, I've met Joe Nocera and he seems like a nice guy.
He's had a distinguished career as a business journalist -- including more than a decade at Fortune -- he's done some first-rate work on Apple (AAPL). "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs," a profile for Esquire of the entrepreneur at age 31, may be the best MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 13, 2014 5:12 AM ET
A "top secret" internal report shows Samsung sold half as many Galaxy Tabs as it claimed.
FORTUNE -- We were skeptical in January 2011 when Strategy Analytics reported -- based on a vague comment made to investors by a Samsung vice president -- that the company had already shipped 2 million Galaxy Tabs, reducing Apple's (AAPL) market share to 75% from 95% in less than six weeks.
Nearly two dozen news outlets went with the report, including MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 11, 2014 6:08 AM ET
Second stop on a 5-city tour is a renovated century-old theater on a wide Berlin boulevard.
FORTUNE -- After Paris, the big Apple Store on the tree-lined Kurfürstendamm -- the wide boulevard that is Berlin's version of the Champs-Élysées -- was a bit of a shock.
The classical Greek revival facade, with its tall windows and inset Ionic columns, is even more imposing than its Parisian sister store's.
The shopping area inside, however, has none of the Opéra's old-world charm.
It's a huge space, with 43 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 11, 2014 2:54 AM ET
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