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AAPL Q3 is a throwaway, say analysts; want Q4 brushstrokes

With the coronavirus crisis having hit Apple’s supply chain and consumer willingness to spend money on shiny new toys, analysts are expecting AAPL Q3 results to be rather underwhelming. Confirmation of this in tomorrow’s earnings announcement is unlikely to cause any great concern.

Many analysts don’t expect to get any Q4 earnings guidance from Apple: There is still too much uncertainty. But they do want to have at least some understanding of where things stand in terms of the iPhone 12 launch…

Business Insider says the consensus expectation is for AAPL Q3 revenue to be down by around 3% year-on-year.

On average, Wall Street analysts expect Apple to generate $52.1 billion of revenue in the fiscal third quarter, down about 3% percent from $53.8 billion in the year-ago period. Apple is expected to report $2.04 in earnings per share in the quarter, versus $2.18 at this time last year.

But analysts do want some reassurance — or at least information — about the iPhone 12 launch. We still don’t know Apple’s plans, and we’ve previously outlined the three possible scenarios.

First, hold the keynote in September, with immediate but limited availability of all models. The Pro models would be likely to shift quickly to back-order status, with lengthy delays before delivery.

Second, take the same approach as the iPhone X and XR: Go ahead with the September keynote, with one or more models available immediately, others going on sale at a later date.

Third, delay the keynote to October, so there is decent immediate availability of all models.

This is the area where analysts want some kind of steer.

Wall Street is all too happy to ignore the recent lockdown-impaired business results and to focus instead on what’s in store this fall […]

‘What matters most is commentary around September,’ said Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures and a longtime Apple observer, calling the results of the last three months a ‘throwaway quarter.’

Investors and analysts want to get a sense of whether that the next phone is ‘still on track’ and that Apple ‘is still producing products,’ Munster said […]

‘At the end of the day, the Apple growth story (and stock) moving higher all rests on the iPhone 12 supercycle coming down the pike,’ Ives wrote in a recent note, ‘which we believe is the most significant product cycle Cupertino has seen since iPhone 6 was released in 2014.’

Others, though, still seem to be expecting numbers from Apple.

‘If they issue guidance that’s kind of low, I think from that you can kind of triangulate that the phone might be delayed,’ RBC Capital Markets’ Muller said to Business Insider. ‘If they issue guidance that is seasonally higher compared to these last couple of quarters, then you can maybe think that the phone [may] get released sooner rather than later.’

That seems unlikely to me. The best I’d expect is for Apple to explain its current expectations around the timing of the iPhone 12 launch and availability. We’ll find out tomorrow, when we’ll of course bring you live reports.

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