Analysts are likely to probe Apple executives for clues as to how fast the company can ramp up production of an expected iPhone 5. They will get the chance during a conference call after Apple releases its earnings for the April-June quarter after the market closes on Tuesday.
The report is expected to show a healthy increase in earnings and revenue, but investors are already looking ahead to the big event of the year: the launch of a new iPhone model. The latest iPhone model, the 4S, was launched last year and is getting old. Analysts expect that Apple shipments to have dipped substantially in the just-ended fiscal third quarter.
Looking forward to the iPhone 5 launch
Brian White at Topeka Capital Markets expects Apple to report selling 30.9 million units, while Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest expects it to report selling 25.4 million. In the first three months of the year, Apple shipped 35 million. The trend in iPads is expected to be stronger, as Apple launched the latest model just two weeks before the start of the third quarter. White expects it to have shipped 15.9 million units, which would be a record, while Hargreaves expects it to have shipped 14.3 million. That would beat the January-March quarter but not the holiday-fueled October-December quarter.
The company doesn't announce new products on its financial conference calls, but analysts will probe to find out what they can. The iPhone 5 is expected to be able to use the fastest new wireless data networks operated by Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. There's also speculation that it could have a slightly larger screen.
Apple launched new MacBooks during the quarter, including a high-end model with a super-high-resolution screen. In the first three months of the year, Macs accounted for 13 percent of Apple's revenue, compared with 17 percent for iPads and 58 percent for iPhones. The company is set to release a new version of the Mac operating system this month. This version will be called "Mountain Lion" and will cost $20.
Apple's stock increased $2.58, or 0.4 percent, to $606.41 in morning trading Tuesday.