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Apple Earnings Preview: Keeping The Ball Rolling

APPLE (AAPL)

Computers, smart phones, portable music devices and online music sales.

Reports Q1 earnings Wednesday 4/23 at approx. 430p-440p ET. Conference call at 5p ET.

Apple Store 5th Ave NY
Apple Store 5th Ave NY

WHAT WILL MOVE THE STOCK:

SUPPORT FOR THE BOUNCE BACK - Apple investors have had a wild ride this quarter: AAPL ended 2007 near $200, fell to $115.44 on Feb. 26th and since then have clawed back to the mid $160s. Are the Q2 results and guidance for the rest of the year good enough to maintain Apple's current rally?

GUIDANCE - What numbers is Apple looking for in the current (third) quarter? Remember, Apple is notorious for giving very conservative guidance. Estimates for next quarter are all over the place -- some analysts expect EPS growth of just 4% from year-ago levels while others forecast as much as a 34% jump in earnings. Who's right? See below for full estimates.

MAC SALES - How are sales of the Mac Book Air and other new laptops doing? What about the rest of the Mac line? Jim Goldman says estimates are running around 2.1 million.

iPHONE - On Monday, Texas Instruments' CFO said he saw weaker-than-expected demand for "high-end" phones. But yesterday morning, AT&T (the exclusive U.S. service provider) said the iPhone is still popular. Unfortunately, AT&T did not say how many iPhones were activated. Remember there are reports of significant numbers of iPhone being sold in the U.S. and then being unlocked and exported overseas and/or being used on other networks.

INTERNATIONAL - Apple is another company with significant overseas operations that may offset potential weakness in domestic sales.

ONLINE MUSIC AND MORE - Competition is ramping up. Is Apple keeping the wolves at bay? At the same time, Apple continues to expand into movies/video sales.

HINTS AT NEW PRODUCTS? - Steve Jobs likes unveiling major new products in grand style, so don't expect much this afternoon. But... keep an ear open for hints at new gear/services anyway.

GOLDMAN ON APPLE - Jim Goldman also did a solid Apple preview, then responded to readers' comments.

ESTIMATES:

Q2 EPS up 23% to $1.07, revenues up 32% to $6.964 billion

Q3 EPS up 20% to $1.10, revenues up 32% to $7.159 billion

FY 08 EPS up 31% to $5.16, revenues up 32% to $31.679 billion

Source: Thomson Reuters

Year-ago actuals: Q1 EPS $0.87, Rev. $5.264 billion

FACTOIDS:

WIDE SPREAD OF ESTIMATES - Q2 earnings estimates range from $0.94 all the way up to $1.23. Looked at another way, analysts are looking for EPS growth anywhere from 8% all the way up to 41%. Q3 forecasts paint a similar picture with a range of $0.96 to $1.23 or growth between 4% and 34%.

UP DOWN UP - At the end of last year, Apple traded briefly above $200. By February 26th, it cratered 40% to close at $119.15 and hit an intra-day low of $115.44. Since then, Apple has taken back more than half of those losses and is trading around $162 today.

CRAMER LIKES IT - Jim Cramer said he was bullish on Apple during last night's "Lightning Round" of "Mad Money."

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