In the bad old days, when Steve Jobs was still blowing smoke up Wall Street’s skirts, the forward-looking statements that Apple gave analysts were an industry joke. Everybody knew that Jobs was low-balling guidance numbers for the current quarter so he could knock them out of the park three months later.
Under Tim Cook, Apple gives “realistic” revenue guidance in a relatively narrow range. Which means there’s a good chance that on Tuesday, after the markets close, the company will reports revenues for the December quarter somewhere between $75.5 billion to $77.5 billion—the guidance numbers it gave in October.
Anything less than $76.5—the midpoint of those goalposts—is likely to be taken by Wall Street as a “miss,” leading to further punishment for the company’s already battered stock price. Anything short of $75.5 would be a disaster.
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Among the 39 analysts in Fortune’s panel we’ve heard from so far—29 professionals and 10 independents—six are calling for a miss and two are predicting disaster.
The rest (31) expect Apple (AAPL) to meet or beat the midpoint. More than a dozen think it might even come in higher than $77.5 billion, the top end of Apple’s range. Either of those outcomes would likely set a new record for the most profitable quarter in the history of capitalism.
But by then, I predict, nobody on Wall Street will care. They’ll be focusing on the company’s guidance for the current quarter, the one that ends in March.
For more on Apple, watch the following Fortune video:
Below: The individual analyst’s estimates for the December quarter—professionals in blue, independents in green. We’ll see who was closer to the mark after the markets close on Tuesday.
Thanks as always to Posts at Eventide’s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.