Consumers may be obsessed with the Apple Watch, but Apple Inc. watchers on Wall Street will be paying more attention to iPhone 6 sales when the company reports fiscal 2015 second-quarter earnings Monday. The iPhone remains the bread and butter of Cupertino’s growing product family, but with the holiday shopping season long over, its more-recent sales likely won’t top the 74.5 million smartphones sold in the December quarter.
Wall Street still expects Apple to show strong numbers when it reports. Consensus estimates place iPhone sales in the March-ended quarter somewhere around 55 million units. Compared to the same period in the previous year, iPhone sales could be up 25.8 percent from 43.7 million.
Overall, Apple is forecast to pull in earnings per share (EPS) of $2.14, or $12.4 billion in profit on $55.9 billion in revenue, an increase of about 22.3 percent from the same period last year, according to consensus estimates from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. This is slightly more than the $52 billion to $55 billion revenue guidance given by Apple when it reported its fiscal 2015 first-quarter earnings in January.
Behind that growth is China, which celebrated Chinese New Year in February, an occasion for gift-giving similar to the December holiday season in Western culture. And with Apple’s brand picking up steam in China, the company is paying close attention to how it can grow its iPhone user base there.
“China is quite important,” said Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity managing director. “[It’s] probably the second-largest market outside of the United States for iPhone sales.” Apple’s iPhones have been so popular that they accounted for over a quarter of the smartphones shipped in the country, according to Kantar World Panel.
Apple’s bet on larger phones like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may continue to pay off in China, where a growing middle class has chosen the phone for both practical purposes and as a status symbol. And as China catches Apple fever, the company has responded by rapidly expanding its physical presence, now up to 21 retail stores in the country. It expects to raise that number to 40 by mid-2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in March.
Among its other products, Apple may have sold as many as 4.7 million Macs, up 13 percent from the 4.1 million sold in the same period last year, according to a research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
iPad revenues are expected to decline, with sales forecast to come in at between 14 million and 15 million units, down from the 16.4 million units sold in the same period last year, according to estimates from Piper Jaffray and Canaccord Genuity.
Though the Apple Watch wasn't part of the company's second quarter, Cupertino execs could shed some light on how well the smartwatch sold in its opening weekend in April. Apple isn't expected to formally break out those numbers in its quarterly earnings reports anytime soon.
The company may also provide shareholders with an update on its dividends and capital returns program, which could see annual dividends raised by up to 8 percent, according to CNBC. Apple is expected to report its fiscal 2015 second-quarter earnings after 4 p.m. EDT, followed by a 5 p.m. conference call to discuss the results.