The Street awaits Apple’s earnings

Every analyst we polled is looking for a record second quarter, but the devil is in the details

Intel (INTC) handily beat all the estimates last week and its stock shot up 4% in after-hours trading. Google (GOOG) beat its estimates but closed down 7% — its worst one-day decline in two years.

Apple (AAPL) reports its quarterly earnings on Tuesday — its last before iPad sales start to pour in — and although revenue, earnings and unit sales should be stellar, what the stock will do in response is anybody’s guess.

Apple’s share price has been setting all-time highs since March 5, and last week it came within spitting distance of a dizzying $250. That’s a 220% increase in 15 months.

Even so, the stock is not necessarily overpriced. Unlike some some companies we could name, Apple’s sales have been tracking its share price. On Friday, its trailing price-to-earnings ratio — 24.1 — was still lower than Google’s (26.95) and a fraction of, say, Amazon’s (69.66). Most analysts think the stock has further to go. The median price target posted by Thomson Financial last week was $282 a share. The high was $325.

Thomson’s consensus has Apple reporting quarterly earnings Tuesday of $2.45 a share on revenues of $12.04 billion. The 25 analysts we polled — including both bankers and bloggers — are slightly more bullish.

We’ve posted the details of their estimates below the fold — divided, as is our tradition, between the professionals and the amateurs.

We’ll find out which group was closest to the mark after the markets close on Tuesday. Then we’ll rank the analysts with a color-coded chart (like last quarter’s) and post it overnight.

Revenue in billions, EPS in dollars, unit sales in millions, gross margin in %. Source: PED

Apple usually reports its earnings about a half-hour after the markets close. A conference call with analysts is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT) Tuesday and should last about an hour. Tune in here for our analysis.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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