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%.
The Street is looking for 0.4% earnings growth with revenues off -0.1% from last year.
FORTUNE -- A ho-hum three months.
That was the consensus of Apple (AAPL) analysts Saturday, the last day of the company's second fiscal quarter of 2014. (See Yahoo snapshot, attached.)
Ho-hum also describes the performance of Apple's share price for the quarter -- down about $20 (-3.5%) while the broader market was scoring modest gains (S&P 500 up 0.8%).
That's a bit out of character, given Apple's past and its future prospects.
The spreadsheet below shows the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 29, 2014 1:16 PM ET
To attract more users, "We simply need to make Twitter a better Twitter," says CEO Dick Costolo.
FORTUNE -- In its first quarterly earnings report as a public company, Twitter's (TWTR) CEO Dick Costolo was on the defensive. The company, which has not yet turned a profit, reported strong top line revenue growth with widening losses.
Twitter Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $243 million, an increase of 116% over the same period last MOREErin Griffith - Feb 5, 2014 6:48 PM ET
Apple has had 5 of the 10 biggest quarters. But Wall Street is looking for earnings growth.
FORTUNE -- One of the members of Investor Village's AAPL Sanity board -- let's call him David -- sent me a link to the data in the attached chart.
"I'll leave it to the analysts to explain why Apple's stock went down 8% today," David wrote on Tuesday, the day after Apple (AAPL) turned in the fourth highest quarterly MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 2, 2014 1:04 PM ET
The Mountain View company announced its fourth-quarter earnings amid a flurry of M&A activity
FORTUNE -- Google reported strong fourth-quarter earnings Thursday: The company earned $16.86 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, a 17% jump over the same period in 2012. Google's GAAP earnings per share was $9.90, up over $8.62 in the year prior. The company's stock traded up more than 4% after hours.
But analysts on the earnings call were MOREErin Griffith - Jan 30, 2014 7:39 PM ET
"Tens of millions" of Prime members could find themselves paying significantly more for expedited shipping.
FORTUNE -- Despite another quarter of solid sales growth for Amazon (AMZN), the Seattle-based e-commerce goliath saw its stock slide over 8% in after-hours trading.
For the fourth quarter of 2013, profits grew to $239 million, or 51 cents per share, from $97 million the same period before. Revenues climbed 26% year over year to $25.6 million. Profits MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jan 30, 2014 5:50 PM ET
It only took six quarters, but Facebook earnings show it has won over the mobile skeptics.
FORTUNE -- Since its disastrous IPO in 2012, Facebook has worked to quiet the skeptics. With its annual earnings report Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg can finally relax: Facebook (FB) is officially a mobile company.
The fourth quarter marks the first time mobile advertising accounted for the majority of Facebook's revenue, representing 53% of income at $1.25 billion. MOREErin Griffith - Jan 29, 2014 7:18 PM ET
In the wake of a lackluster quarterly earnings report, the Yahoo CEO underscores that a turnaround would take years. Investors may not give her that much time.
FORTUNE -- After a string of ugly one-night stands, Wall Street found love with Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer. The pair had a sweet honeymoon period: Yahoo's share price has more than doubled during her first 18 months as CEO.
But with the company's latest MOREErin Griffith - Jan 28, 2014 7:59 PM ET
Average estimate: $14.32 per share on sales of $57.9B. Apple's guidance: $55 to $58B.
FORTUNE -- On Monday, after the markets close, Apple (AAPL) is scheduled to announce its results for the first fiscal quarter of 2014, and we'll get to test not just the forecasts of our cadre of Apple analysts -- a mix of pros and amateurs -- but the accuracy of Apple's predictions under the new regime.
In the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 24, 2014 9:52 AM ET
After IBM again misses most expectations for its quarterly earnings, its chief executive makes a concession of her own: her compensation.
FORTUNE -- IBM (IBM) chief executive Virginia "Ginni" Rometty is passing up her annual bonus.
It's a rare move for any tech CEO, and it signals that Rometty knows she's got trouble on her hands. She made the announcement Tuesday as the company missed Wall Street's expectations yet again for its MOREJessi Hempel, writer - Jan 21, 2014 4:39 PM ET
|Where you live plays a big role in your total income tax bill|
|5 people you might not tip (but should)|
|Many recalled cars won't be repaired|
|Medicare pays doctors less than private insurance|
|When she earns more than he does - More Money|