Apple ( AAPL) is expected to comfortably beat its revenue estimates when it reports its fiscal fourth-quarter results late Tuesday, although Wall Street will be closely monitoring the report for any signs of plummeting consumer confidence. The last few weeks have certainly not been easy for the maker of the iPod and the Mac. Apple's shares plunged amid concern about slowing demand for PCs, and the firm's stock also took a hammering when it was falsely reported that CEO and founder Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack.
Initial expectations at least suggest that Apple should be able to shake off its recent problems, prompting the company's shares to rally slightly on Monday. Apple shares closed up $1.04, or 1.07%, at $98.44. Analysts are expecting fourth-quarter revenue of $8.05 billion and earnings of $1.11 a share, slightly above the company's own revenue forecast of $7.8 billion and earnings of $1 a share. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm, is, however, notoriously conservative in its guidance, prompting at least one analyst to predict higher fourth-quarter figures. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects Apple, despite a tough economy, to report revenue of $8.37 billion and earnings of $1.17 a share. "Despite the expectation for an extended consumer slowdown hitting the consumer electronics space, we believe Apple is well-positioned to weather the storm," Munster wrote in a research note maintaining Apple's buy rating. "The company has recently leveraged its unit volumes in the iPod, Mac and iPhone businesses to lower prices moderately while generally maintaining margins."