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Monday, April 21, 2014, 05:45 am PT (08:45 am ET)

Earnings preview: Wall Street expects flat March quarter, awaiting new products in late 2014

With no major new products launched in the just-concluded March quarter, analysts on Wall Street don't expect big things from Apple when the company reports its earnings on Wednesday, generally projecting for revenue to be about flat with the same period from a year ago.

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Investor expectations cited by analyst Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities suggest that Apple will report sales of $43.6 billion for the quarter, which spans the months of January through March. He has pegged the average earnings per share estimate at $10.15 for the quarter.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has generally similar numbers, with his research suggesting Wall Street is projecting revenue of $43.5 billion, and earnings per share of $10.17.
A year ago, the March 2013 quarter marked the first time in a decade that Apple saw its profits decrease.
Both analysts believe Apple will beat those expectations, riding stronger-than-expected sales of both the iPhone and iPad. Munster's "bogies" for the March quarter call for iPhone sales between 38 million and 39 million, and iPad sales of between 20 million and 22 million. Um, meanwhile, sees sales of 39 million iPhones and 21 million iPads.

It may have been a tough quarter for the Mac, as Munster believes sales may have dipped 6 percent year over year to 3.7 million units in March. Um's projections are slightly stronger at 3.85 million units.

It was during this same quarter a year ago that Apple saw its profits fall for the first time in a decade. Despite record second quarter sales of $43.6 billion, Apple saw its profits fall about 18 percent to $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share.

Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones, 19.5 million iPads, and just under 4 million Macs in the March 2013 quarter. This year, iPhone and iPad sales are expected by Wall Street to rise slightly, while Mac sales are projected to fall.

Analysts are also expecting Apple to announce a slight increase to its share buyback program and quarterly dividend this week. Apple currently pays $3.05 per share to investors each quarter, while the company has already repurchased billions of dollars of its own shares as part of an ongoing program.

Apple will report its March quarter results on Wednesday after markets close, and AppleInsider will have full, live coverage.

Looking ahead to the June quarter, current Wall Street estimates call for Apple to see $38.3 billion in revenue, with gross margins at 36.5 percent, according to Munster.