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Earnings preview: Wall Street expects 37M iPhones, 12M iPads sold by Apple in Sept. quarter

The New York Stock Exchange, credit Carlos Delgado via Wikipedia.

Apple is set to report the results of its September quarter later this afternoon, including the first few weeks of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, and market watchers generally expect the company will report revenue of around $40 billion for the three-month period.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray issued a note to investors on Monday in which he summarized Wall Street expectations for the quarter. Apple already provided guidance of between $37 billion and $40 billion in revenue for the September frame, and investors generally expect the company took in $40 billion or more.

However, Munster believes it is unlikely that Apple will post revenue significantly ahead of the $40 billion at the high end of its guidance. In his view, if Apple's sales were meaningfully ahead of $40 billion, they would have revised guidance following the opening weekend of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales.

That's exactly what Apple did last year following the launch of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, pushing its gross margin guidance higher a month before earnings were reported.

As for this year's iPhone sales, market watchers generally expect Apple to report shipments of between 37 million and 38 million units for the quarter. That would represent 10 percent year over year growth, slightly lower than the 13 percent annual growth the company posted in its June 2014 quarter.

Wall Street expects shipments of 37M-38M iPhones, 12M iPads, and 4.6M Macs for the September quarter.

As for the iPad, Wall Street expects shipments of 12 million units, down 15 percent year over year. Mac sales are expected to have grown 1 percent to 4.6 million, while gross margin expectations are pegged at 37.5 percent.

Looking forward to the December quarter, Munster expects Apple will guide revenue to between $65 billion and $68 billion, with gross margins between 38 and 38.5 percent. Wall Street expects that Apple's margins will see a boost from the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with higher capacity offerings incentivizing upsells.

While Apple doesn't guide sales of products, investors expect Apple will sell about 60 million iPhone units in the holiday quarter, which would be a new all-time record.

Piper Jaffray has reiterated its "overweight" rating for AAPL stock with a price target of $120.