Apple earnings: What to expect from first quarter results on Tuesday as iPhone 6s and 6s Plus risk sales slowdown

Lynsey Barber
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Apple's earnings could be a mixed bag (Source: Getty)

Apple will reveal its most crucial earnings in years as fears have been stoked about softer sales after the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus as well as Apple Watch.

Revenue is expected to come in at $76.6bn (£53.7bn) and earnings per share of $3.23, a rise of 2.7 per cent and 5.6 per cent, according to analyst consensus, said Saxo Bank head of equity strategy Peter Garnry.

"However, the recent weakness in the share price is driven by uncertainty over demand given key suppliers are scaling back production and laying off people. Given this news it could very well be that analysts are too optimistic and Apple will miss on revenue."

Reports of a cut in Apple production at the start of the year sent shares tumbling under $100 for the first time since 2014. Shares in Apple returned above that mark on Friday, closing up more than five per cent to $101.42 ahead of the first quarter earnings, due on Tuesday.

However, several Apple suppliers have warned of a drop in revenue in the quarter, indicating a slowdown in sales which could signal the first year-on-year sales decline for Apple in years.

"We're not at the historical lows, but near them" said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster of Apple stock, speaking to Bloomberg Markets.

"Investors are able to look forward to what's coming, and in this case it would be a larger share buyback at the end of the March quarter, the iPhone 7. Historical valuations along with those catalysts make us positive."

The potential decline is already priced in, he noted: "We think they can lower their numbers and the stock react positively on Tuesday."

"In addition the latest product announcements have not stirred a lot of enthusiasms and the Apple Watch has not gained momentum according to channel checks. Given the negative news flow and the negative momentum in the share price we have been short the stock since January," said Garnry,

"Having said that, the fundamentals of Apple are still phenomenal. No doubt about that," he added. "Their 12 month trailing operating cash flow to total assets excluding excess cash and securities is around 70 per cent, which is still by far the highest observed among large and mega caps in the US and Europe. In that light Apple is still a high quality company and that alone warrants a higher share price and valuation. But for now the news flow is dominating the path of Apple's share price."

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