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Apple's Jan. 23 earnings conference call viewed as most important in 10 years

Ahead of its holiday quarterly earnings report, Apple finds itself in a situation the company hasn't encountered in awhile: investor expectations for the next year are surprisingly low.

With that in mind, Ben A. Reitzes of Barclays Capital believes Apple's earnings conference call on Jan. 23 will be the company's most important in the last decade.

Over the last three months, Apple's stock price has fallen by nearly 17 percent. One of the reasons is believed to be investor concern over Apple's continued growth potential and gross margins heading into calendar 2013.


Barclays has maintained its overweight rating for AAPL stock, as Reitzes believes that Apple faces lower expectations for its fiscal year 2013. He sees new product cycles from the company later this year helping to change investor sentiment.

In particular, Reitzes is a proponent of Apple building a low-end iPhone to address emerging markets like China. Recent reports have claimed that Apple plans to release such a device this year.


While some investors are concerned that a low-cost iPhone would cut into Apple's margins, Reitzes doesn't share that sentiment. He also believes that other investors will change their tune if and when the product is built.

"We believe Apple can sell a phone with a more inexpensive casing for emerging markets and a (bill of materials) below $150, and believe concerns around margin dilution may be overdone, given the pending benefit to revenues," Reitzes wrote in a note to investors on Friday.

He believes that Apple is in a "peer group of U.S. disruptors" that also includes Google, Amazon and Facebook. Reitzes noted that Amazon and Google also saw large sell-offs in 2011, but those are a "distant memory" after both companies rebounded in 2012.

"Momentum can change quickly among the leaders in disruptive mobility — along with sentiment," he said. "If Apple can prove yet again it is more than a handset company, then we believe shares can recover."