Trading Apple before earnings: No shortage of free advice

Updated: Apr 23, 2012 12:23 PM UTC

FORTUNE -- You'll find them on Seeking Alpha, often posting with agendas hidden under pseudonyms like Options Pundit, Income Hunter and Jaded Consumer.

And with Apple's (aapl) stock dropping 11% from a record high two trading before a pivotal quarterly earnings report, they're full of free -- and often conflicting -- advice.

Confused yet? The fact is, nobody knows which way Apple's shares are going to move after the company reports its second fiscal quarter earnings Tuesday. The blowout that the most bullish independent analysts predict could spark a massive rally to new highs. A run-of-the-mill earnings beat on the order of the Street's consensus could send the stock scurrying back down to February levels.

My free advice: Keep your eye on iPhone unit sales, especially in China. See About those 3.2 million Verizon iPhone activations last quarter.

Below the fold: Our updated analysts spreadsheet, with estimates from 23 independent and 34 Wall Street analysts.

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