Apple Earnings: Here Are 3 Figures to Look Out For

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) watchers will pore over the company’s earnings report for the fiscal first quarter once it’s sent out into the world after markets close on Wednesday. But there are a few figures in the jumble of numbers that will determine not only how the stock behaves in the near term, but also the direction the company is expected to take for the rest of the current fiscal year.

Here are the four numbers that are worth taking note of first up:

iPad Sales

The most crucial element of the iPad report is certainly a breakdown of full-sized iPad and iPad mini sales. But even if Apple chooses to be a spoilsport and leave out a split result, it will be an important question for the analysts to pose to executives during the post-earnings conference call. In any case, an overall number — which can help determine whether tablet sales grew significantly or if the smaller device cannibalized sales — will be a good indicator of trends. In the fourth quarter, Apple sold 14 million iPads, up 26 percent from last year.

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iPhone Unit Sales

Concerns about the apparently dropping demand for Apple’s bestselling smartphone have possibly provided the worst drag on the company’s shares in this calendar year. Ever since a news report cited supply sources to assert that Apple had cut orders for components used to manufacture the iPhone 5, the latest smartphone from the company has been the subject of scrutiny.  Numbers from the December-ending quarter will provide some guideline to how sales have shaped up since the phone’s launch in September, even though Apple doesn’t break out iPhone sales by model.

More details on that will certainly come from the post-earnings conference call, when analysts are expected to question Apple executives. Verizon (NYSE:VZ), known to be a big indicator of iPhone sales trend, announced on Tuesday that it activated 6.2 million of the Apple devices in the quarter. In the fourth quarter, Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones, up 58 percent from the year-earlier period.

International Sales and Revenue

The iPhone 5 was launched in a staggered way, but at a fairly quick speed internationally. Sales and revenue numbers from Apple’s global markets then should provide a fairly accurate overall picture. Of course, of particular note will be China, which represented nearly 15 percent of the company’s sales in fiscal 2012.

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The recent rumors about the company potentially launching a cheaper smartphone targeted at its cost-conscious emerging markets may also receive a new shape according to how sales trends have changed. While Apple’s performance in growing markets has been disappointing in recent quarters, just how badly the cheaper devices from Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and other manufacturers have affected it will determine the iPhone maker’s next steps.

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