In its first quarter 2017 earnings results, set for release Jan. 24, Apple Inc. (APPL) is expected to unveil a break from three straight quarters of year-over-year declines in revenue.

Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research forecast revenues of $76.96 billion, with earnings per share of $3.22, over last year’s record quarterly revenue of $75.9 billion, or $3.06 per share. Such predictions would also mark a steep rise over the fourth quarter of 2016, which saw revenues of $46.9 billion, or $1.67 per share, and its first-ever decline in annual sales since 2001. 

Still, the consensus among analysts polled by the Financial Times was that Apple would outperform the market. Some, like St. Louis-based Wedgewood Partners' David Rolfe, have said investors are "far too bearish on Apple," as Rolfe told Barron's magazine, touting the firm's sprawling services arm and the loyalty of its customer base. 

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has often enjoyed a spike in sales during the holiday season. Research published in November by Strategy Analytics indicated that Apple captured a record share of smartphone industry profits in 2016’s third quarter.

But most analysts aren’t feeling too optimistic for the Silicon Valley behemoth.

KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo forecast a decline in iPhone 7 sales in the first quarter of 2017, with a shipment volume of between 40 and 50 million units — down from 51.2 million in the first quarter of Apple’s last fiscal year. The main element behind dwindling sales, he noted, was weak demand from Chinese customers.

However, in a conference call with investors following the fourth quarter earnings release, Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company was “very bullish on China” due to the increasing size of the country’s middle class.

Aside from drooping sales, the company suffered a loss in the courtroom this month when the Supreme Court unanimously sided with rival smartphone maker Samsung in a patent infringement case brought by Apple. A lawsuit sought to force the South Korean firm to cough up $399 million for designs Apple deemed too similar to the iPhone to be anything less than a copy. The ruling effectively blocked Apple from seizing a monopoly on certain design elements — a win for not just Samsung, but any company that tries to compete with the Cupertino-based firm. 

Giving Apple a taste of its own medicine, so to speak, Nokia Corp., which Apple paid for use of the Finnish firm's patents, recently expanded its legal battle against the Cupertino company to 40 patent suits in 11 countries. If successful, the move could put a dent in Apple's coffers.

As San Francisco-based intellectual property lawyer Clem Roberts told the New York Times this month: "Apple is saying, 'We want to pay one low price and not have to deal with any of your patents again.' Nokia is saying, 'I don’t want that low price because my patents are worth more than that.'"

As of Tuesday morning, Apple's share price continued to recover from its post-third-quarter dip, climbing toward $120 after reaching $116.52 at market open.