Apple reports today after the close. I've been long on the stock since summer. I expect the stock will rally after it reports.
Because Apple refreshed both the iPad and the iPhone, sales for the holiday quarter seem to have been even stronger than usual. In the fall, (in the beginning of the soon-to-be reported quarter), the new iPhone 5S and 5C received immensely higher demand than analysts expected.
This bodes well for the company going into the quarter. The new iPad Air and iPad Mini are also expected to have done well. In this case, I would have expected shares of Apple to run higher into the earnings report. But they haven't. In fact, Apple feels like a hated stock in many regards, as it continues to stall out after short moves higher and fail to move higher in a significant manner.
Because sentiment still doesn't seem very positive, and because the holiday quarter was likely very strong, I expect Apple to exceed first quarter expectations. Although guidance can oftentimes trip up even the best report, the deal with China Mobile Limited (CHL) will likely save Apple.
I don't expect the deal to add a lot of sales to Apple's most recent quarter. Instead, I think the Chinese New Year will drive sales in the region for Apple's fiscal second quarter, when it reports in April. Because of this, guidance should be good too.
The only other "mystery" in the quarter will likely have to do with the company's cash pile and if management has any plans on what to do with it. Overall, I expect a strong quarter with acceptable margins and a solid outlook.
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