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Apple's Earnings Preview

How many iPhones have to be sold for a successful third quarter earnings season at Apple? We’ll find out this afternoon, when the company reports after markets close at 4pm ET.

Analysts point to the iPhone as a key part of today’s earning report. It has quickly eclipsed other Apple products, including the iPod, in terms of sales.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray will discuss his outlook for Apple on "The Closing Bell." He’s expecting iPhone sales will have reached 7.5 million units, and Mac computer sales of 2.8 million units. A Thomson Reuters survey forecasts $9.2 billion in total revenue for the third quarter, and EPS of $1.42.

While the outlook for Apple’s Q3 earnings report is optimistic, what about the stock? According to Fifth Third Asset Management’s Scott Billeadeau, every investor should have a place for Apple in their portfolio. He sees continued upside potential for the stock. More broadly, Scott dismisses concerns that the tech trade has become too crowded. He expects the sector to remain a market leader.

We’ll bring you the latest on Apple when earnings are released after markets close. CNBC Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Jim Goldman as those numbers break.

John Cook contributed to this article.

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Questions? Comments? Write toinvestoragenda@cnbc.com

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