Last quarter Apple (AAPL) reported earnings of $7.47 per share, compared to the consensus earnings estimate of $7.30 per share and the Earnings Whisper ® number of $7.43 per share. This was the first beat since April 2012 for the bottom-line, but the top-line still missed whispered expectations. The main reason the company was able to beat earnings per share expectations was a 36 million share buyback that took ten million shares out of the weighted average share count used as the denominator in the per-share math. The company had guided for revenue of $33.5 billion to $35.5 billion and revenue whispers were $36.5 billion compared to the consensus estimate of $35.2 billion. The company reported $35.3 billion. That revenue number gave more support to the realization that Apple is no longer Steve Jobs’ company and the practice of low-balling guidance to easily hurdle later is a thing of the past. Few analysts believe there is much reason to expect that to change this quarter.
So, for the fiscal fourth quarter ended September 30, 2013, Apple guided revenue of $34.0 billion to $37.0 billion with gross margins of 36.0% to 37.0%. The company also provided guidance for operating expenses of $3.90 billion to $3.95 billion, other income of $200.0 million, and a tax rate of 26.5%. Plug those numbers in and you get an earnings per share range of $6.75 to $7.94 per share using 924.2 million shares. The consensus earnings estimate was set at $7.69 per share until September 23, 2013 when the company filed a statement with the SEC that it sold more than nine million new iPhone 5s and 5c models during the first three days of availability and, as a result, expects revenue and gross margins to come in at the high-end of its guidance range. The consensus earnings estimate is now $7.92 per share on revenue of $36.82 billion. The Earnings Whisper ® number is $8.02 per share, which is the very high end of the guidance range after adjusting the share count to 915 million. Regardless, as long as revenue is $37.0 billion or below and gross margins are 37.0% or below, the results will be viewed as in-line and that is what nearly every real analyst, on both the buy and sell-side, expects for the quarter.
Go AAPL tonight!