Earnings

Handicapping Apple's quarterly earnings and revenue: Q2 2014

April 21, 2014: 3:22 AM ET

Average estimate: $10.32 per share on sales of $43.5B. Apple's guidance: $42 to $44B.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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%.

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