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%.
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
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
New evidence in one of the most contentious issues in the Apple v. Samsung II patent trial.
FORTUNE -- AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger and FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller have locked horns in a fierce debate over whether Samsung ought to be held liable for copying Apple's (AAPL) slide-to-unlock patent -- one of five patents at issue in the $2 billion infringement trial that began last week.
Dilger posted his piece on Saturday:
Apple unlocks MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 6, 2014 5:41 AM ET
The full text of the e-mail in which Steve Jobs lays out his final hopes and fears for Apple.
FORTUNE -- In October 2010 Steve Jobs wrote a memo to Apple's (AAPL) executive team outlining the points he wanted covered at that year's Top 100 -- the secret off-site meeting of the 100 employees he viewed as most critical to the company's success.
Introduced as Defendant's Exhibit No. 489.245 in the $2 billion Apple patent infringement trial MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 5, 2014 9:24 AM ET
Clearing the way for Steve Jobs' new "spaceship" headquarters.
FORTUNE -- Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) U.S. workforce had shrunk to 304,000 by 2010 when the company announced that it would be shutting down its Cupertino campus -- then only 60% occupied -- and consolidating its operations in Palo Alto.
The offices it left behind stood vacant for more than two years. Then, in February, they were torn down to make room for Apple's (AAPL) new headquarters, designed to hold MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 25, 2014 7:28 AM ET
The British actor who played Batman is reportedly top pick for Aaron Sorkin's screenplay.
FORTUNE -- Money and talent are no guarantee that a Hollywood movie won't stink. (See Ashton Kutcher's 'Jobs': What the critics are saying.)
But for the Sony Pictures (SNE) project based on Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs, the pieces are starting to fall into place.
Aaron Sorkin, whose credits include The Social Network and The West Wing, has reportedly finished MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 21, 2014 7:02 AM ET
Is Apple really doomed? We don't know, and neither does she.
FORTUNE -- Confession: I was one of the more than 200 sources Yukari Iwatani Kane interviewed for Haunted Empire, the new book about Apple's transition from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook that arrived Tuesday to largely negative reviews.
I've known since last summer -- and agreed to keep silent about -- the arc of her story. Kane told me in July that she went MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 19, 2014 9:18 AM ET
But Pandora, with a 31% market share, still dominates Internet music streaming.
FORTUNE -- Less than six months after Apple (AAPL) launched its music streaming and recommendation service, iTunes Radio has taken the No. 3 spot in the crowded U.S. market, according to Edison's monthly radio report.
Pandora (P), with 80 million U.S. users and a 31% share, still dominates the field, and iHeart Radio, with a 9% share, is No. 2. But Apple's entry, with MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 11, 2014 6:05 AM ET
Monday, Feb. 24, would have been his 59th birthday
FORTUNE -- As we did when he was still running Apple (AAPL), we'd like to celebrate Steve Jobs' life by re-posting what may be the most personal public speech this intensely private man ever made: His commencement address to the Stanford University class of 2005.
If you haven't seen it — or haven't heard it recently — we give you Steve Jobs on life, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 24, 2014 10:15 AM ET
|Water becoming more valuable than gold|
|Will 7 Apples a day keep the bears away? - The Buzz|
|Don't assume you're safe from Heartbleed|
|Postal workers protest Staples|
|Tesla finds friends in the FTC|