Apple figurehead Steve Jobs has been on medical leave of absence from the company since January.  (Source:
Analysts expect another great quarter, tempered by short-term setbacks from component shortages

Apple is slated to release its first-quarter numbers today, which analysts are expecting will continue in the trajectory of the previous quarter and many before it -- spectacular growth. But this time around, the numbers will be "tempered by growing caution over how supply constraints will squeeze margins and restrain iPhone and iPad sales," Reuters reports.

In addition to the devastating losses within the country, the disaster in Japan -- stemming from a category-9 earthquake that hit the island nation in early March -- has caused worldwide component shortages and hampered numerous industries, particularly the consumer electronic market.

"The biggest concern at the moment is quite short term in nature and that revolves around the supply chain that is a global issue following the catastrophe in Japan," Hudson Square Research Analyst Daniel Ernst told Reuters. "We are all interested to learn how Apple is managing that."

According to the report, analysts predict Apple will either pay higher prices for components, or it might struggle to get enough of its products to market to meet demand. The timing also marks the first time that its quarterly earnings are announced under CEO Tim Cook, while Steve Jobs is on medical leave of absence.

Long-term, Apple seems to be alright, especially after the recent news of the iPhone 5 in the pipeline for a September release. "The demand for Apple products is incredible, the company has managed the business very well in terms of cost and margin progression and new R&D, product launches," Ernst said. "So the long-term story looks fantastic." 

In a lawsuit Apple recently filed against Samsung, Apple said it had sold over 19 million iPads by March 2011. Those numbers suggest that it sold 4.2 million units in the second quarter. 

Apple is expected to report earnings of $5.35 a share on revenue of $23.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Shares of its stock closed up $6.01, or 1.81 percent, at $337.9 Tuesday, although it has slipped slightly since the Nasdaq announced plans to rebalance the Nasdaq 100 composite index.

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