Apple’s quarter of lowered expectations: Fiscal Q3 2013 by Philip Elmer-DeWitt @FortuneMagazine July 10, 2013, 10:41 AM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons FORTUNE – On April 24, the day after Apple AAPL reported its earnings for fiscal Q2, Cowan and Company’s Matthew Hoffman published a revised forecast for the following quarter. Talk about lowered expectations! Based on the forward-looking guidance Apple gave analysts during the April 23 conference call, Hoffman cut his fiscal Q3 revenue estimate from $40.8 billion to $35.4 billion, a $5.4 billion (13%) haircut. He also cut his his iPad unit sales estimate by 26%, his EPS estimate by 27% and he shaved 4.6 percentage points off his gross margin. Hoffman’s revisions were more extreme than most, but they were not unique, and his new numbers are still somewhat higher that the Street’s consensus. On July 24, according to Thomson Financial, Wall Street expects Apple to report earnings of $7.33 on sales of $35.17 billion. Even that is too optimistic, according to Fortune‘s preliminary survey. The median revenue estimate from the 35 Wall Street analysts who have responded so far is $35.02 billion. That’s an interesting number, because $35.02 billion happens to be precisely what Apple reported in the same quarter last year. In other words, Apple’s revenue growth year over year would be zero. Our panel of independent analysts is, as usual, somewhat more bullish. The median revenue number from the 17 indies we’ve heard from is $36.16 billion. What’s happened to Apple’s quarterly earnings over the past year is another story. FOR THE RECORD: Apple in April told analysts it anticipated Q3 revenues somewhere between $33.5 billion and $35.5 billion and gross margins between 36% and 37%. For the second time memory it did not offer earnings guidance, which probably doesn’t bode well.