Apple's share price has dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks. This was possibly due to one analyst downgrading his expectations  for Apple based on the assumption that cell phone operators would grow tired of paying the large subsidy the iPhone carries. But it doesn't take into account the different markets outside the U.S. where unsubsidized phones are much more common. Nevertheless, Apple's stock price has taken a beating as investors realize their profits, and some worry that their estimates for Apple may be over-inflated.
CNN has done a great job of drawing together  analysts' estimates on tomorrow's quarterly results. Here are the key figures:
- Independant analysts revenue guesses range from $39.09 billion to $47.01 billion, leading to an earnings-per-share figure of between $11.60 and $15.04.
- Institutional analysts are much more conservative, guessing between $33.72 billion and $41.09 billion in revenues and EPS figures between $9 and $11.80.
- Independant analysts predict between 10.37 million and 13 million iPads sold, and 33.82 million to 44 million iPhones sold.
- Institutional watchers guess between 10 million and 13.8 million iPads, and 26 million to 34.06 million iPhones sold.
We've argued before that analysts don't always remember  to step outside the raw dollar numbers and consider Apple in its innovative high-tech context.
In this vein it's worth remembering the following facts. Apple's iPad 3 debuted during this quarter, and achieved record-breaking sales . The iPhone accounted for  over 50% of all smartphone sales on the U.S.'s biggest network, Verizon, during the quarter. And for even more relevant context, 63% of iPhones activated during the last quarter  were outside the U.S., and Apple's iPhone 4S went on sale in China early in 2012--causing so much demand the company had to stop sales  momentarily to establish order.
So, here's what to expect tomorrow: Calm confidence from Tim Cook  and Apple's management. Revenue figures that demonstrate huge growth year-on-year, defying the law of large numbers--even if they disappoint analysts. iPhone sales that are record-breaking for this quarter (due to the launch in China), and ditto for the iPad--Apple's two most profitable devices. Mac sales may be slightly depressed as buyers await the brand-new Mac lineup sporting Intel's freshly-launched  Ivy Bridge chips. Opinions may be voiced, gently, about the Department of Justice's anti-trust lawsuit concerning Apple's e-book pricing regime--but they'll probably tally with recent public statements made by Apple execs, defending Apple's stance.
Don't expect much additional insight into the company--there'll be no surprise announcements, for instance, that it's buying Twitter . Also don't expect any hints about future products: Apple will likely again qualify the Apple TV as a "hobby," and won't talk at all about its rumored plans  to sell its own HDTV set. Tim Cook will mention "great products in the pipeline" and that's about it. We'll be unlikely to glean any information about the release date of the next iPhone, nor will Apple discuss its patent lawsuits. Cook will probably face questions on Apple's indirect workforce in China , but he'll remind people his company is making unprecedented moves, compared to its peers, to change things.
One surprising thing that may happen is that Apple could reveal a slightly new side to its business, under its new leadership. We've seen Tim Cook  already making moves to adjust Apple's stance on charity-giving, so it's possible the financial results or talk of the future will mention additional moves such as this.
[Image: Flickr user Anthony Chau ]