For Apple Inc., it's all about the iPhone 6 -- namely, how many did Cupertino manage to sell around the world in the all-important final quarter of 2014?
Indications are quite a lot, perhaps as many as 70 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units, according to some estimates. The last time Apple said anything official about iPhone sales was September, when 10 million units sold in its first weekend. While Apple hasn't said anything about the three months ended in December, anecdotally, demand appeared very strong, setting up what many expect to be a huge quarter for Apple.
Riding brisk sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the company is expected to post a profit of $15.3 billion, up 16 percent from $13.1 billion last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Apple to post earnings of $2.58 per share on $67.4 billion in revenue, compared with earnings of $2.07 per share on $57.6 billion in revenue a year earlier.
The projections edge past Apple’s guidance, which placed revenue between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion.
Apple’s newest smartphone, which accounted for more than 55 percent of the company’s net sales in 2014, are expected to make up the bulk of its December quarter revenue, with Deutsche Bank projecting 67 million iPhones shipped, up 31 percent from the previous year. At the high end, that number may be closer to 69 million, according to UBS analyst Steve Milunovich. Driving those numbers is China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. in iPhone sales for the first time.
Mac sales may also see healthy growth, with Canaccord Genuity estimating 5.6 million units for the quarter, up 16 percent from 4.8 million a year earlier.
While the story is positive for Apple’s flagship smartphones and computers, the same can’t be said for the iPad tablet, coming off three straight quarters of declining sales. This time around, Canaccord expects iPad sales to come in at around 20 million, a 23 percent drop from the 26 million units sold in 2013.
That drop comes despite aggressive advertising attempting to reignite excitement for the iPad line.
But Apple isn’t alone. The worldwide tablet market saw a “massive deceleration” of growth in 2014, slowing to 7.2 percent, a 52.5 percent drop from 2013, according to market research firm IDC. And that’s not expected to change much in 2015, with Gartner expecting global tablet market growth of 8 percent.
This report will also mark the first quarter Apple has disclosed without an iPod category, reflecting the declining sales in the personal music player. Instead, the iPod and Apple TV will be relegated to a new category called “Other Products.” While the highly anticipated Apple Watch has yet to be released, Apple has stated it intends to place the wearable in the new category as well.
The company is expected to report its earnings at market close, followed by a conference call to discuss the results at 5 p.m. EST.