Apple Earnings Smackdown, fiscal Q4 2015 edition
With the world’s most valuable company—and the hedge funds’ favorite punching bag—set to report earnings after the markets close today, the eyes of Wall Street are once again on Apple.
The stock is still 14% below its all-time high of $134.54 set back in February. It’s been haunted ever since by the so-called tough compare: The belief that Apple’s December quarter last year—the most profitable in the history of capitalism—set a bar so high the company would be hard-pressed to beat it this year. And for investors, a stock like Apple—perceived as a high-flyer—has to keep climbing or it falls back to earth.
But we’re getting ahead ourselves. Today’s results are for fiscal Q4, which should set another September quarter record for Apple and round out a record fiscal year. Fortune‘s panel of analysts—a mix of Wall Street professionals and veteran amateurs—is calling for earnings of $1.92 on sales of $51.38 billion, slightly higher than the Street ($1.88 on $51.12 billion).
Whether Apple beats last September’s numbers may matter less than the forward-looking guidance it gives for December. If it guides much lower than the Street’s estimates (earnings of $3.22 on sales of $77.14 billion) there could be hell to pay.
I’ll be monitoring the earnings results, and you can too. Apple’s conference call with analysts today will be webcast live starting at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT). Click here to listen in.
Tomorrow I’ll post Fortune’s quarterly ranking of the best and worst Apple analysts. Stay tuned.
Below: A subset of our final spreadsheet. If you click here to see the whole thing you’ll note that Fortune‘s panel is predicting sales of 48.9 million iPhones in the September quarter and 78.36 million in December, up year over year 24.5% and 5%, respectively.
Click to see full chart, with unit sales estimates (including Watch) and Q1 2016 predictions.
Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed. You might also want to subscribe to Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology.