What Do Apple Investors Want From Earnings Today?

When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) posts its first quarterly earnings report of the 2013 fiscal year on Wednesday afternoon, investors’ attention may be fixed on one key figure: the company’s outlook.

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Apple analysts and stock watchers have grown increasingly pessimistic about the company’s near- and long-term future, starting with the current fiscal year. Now Apple has always been known to be notoriously conservative with its guidance, but if it lowers its outlook for the fiscal year any further this time around, it could trigger panic among its already-concerned investors.

“It’s all about the guide,” Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray told MarketWatch. “If they have a big miss for December but a phenomenal guide, the stock will go up. But if they crush December but give a bad forecast, the stock is going to go down.”

There has been a lot of news lately of an apparently rapid slowdown in iPhone 5 demand as well as concerns about whether the company can maintain its high margins as it enters new areas of comparatively lower-profit products, such as the iPad mini. Analysts are currently predicting earnings of $11.77 per share for the current quarter — a decline of about 4 percent from the same period last year.

Analysts will also be looking for clues about rumored new product launches, details on the company’s capital investment plans or supplier switches, and any hints about a growth initiative in China and other growing markets for Apple.

For the December quarter, Apple is expected to report earnings of $13.47 per share compared to $13.87 per share in the same period the previous year, according to FactSet. Revenue is expected to rise 19 percent to $54.9 billion.

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The stock has slipped almost 30 percent since reaching a record high in September and a little under 6 percent just this month. It is unclear how much of the concerns for the current quarter and the rest of the ongoing fiscal year have been baked into the recent falls, but Apple will need to be wary.

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