Updated from 11:12 a.m. EST to provide portfolio manager comments in the third paragraph.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's the mother of all earnings reports. Apple's ( AAPL) slated to report earnings and guidance after the close of trading, and given the malaise towards the iPhone maker lately, Apple will need to show something extraordinary to excite investors and regain the aura that's surrounded the company in the past. There have been countless reports over the past few months that Apple's seeing slowing demand for its products, whether it's the all-important iPhone, or concerns over the iPad. Expectations have been lowered going into the report, and Ironfire Capital's Eric Jackson thinks Apple will meet the expectations, and "that will cause a lot of hand-wringing this afternoon about whether the law of large numbers is kicking in." Going a little further out, Jackson believes shares will be higher, as people start to look toward the rest of 2013. Jackson owns shares in Apple and is a RealMoney contributor. Judging by recent smartphone numbers from Verizon ( VZ) and AT&T ( T), iPhone activations are less of a concern than they were, which should be a positive for Apple this quarter. Verizon activated 6.2 million iPhones in its most recent quarter, with half of them iPhone 5s. AT&T said it activated 10.2 million smartphones, with most analysts believing that around 75% of them were iPhones. Last quarter, the iPhone accounted for nearly 50% of Apple's revenue. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm generated $36 billion in overall sales during its fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are looking for earnings of $13.47 a share on $54.7 billion in revenue. The most important number in the earnings release, in my opinion, is gross margin.
Societe Generale analyst Andy Perkins believes that average selling price (ASP) has spiked around the world for handsets, and much of that is due to Apple and the iPhone 5, which could alleviate gross margin concerns. "We believe that much of this surprisingly robust performance in ASPs can be traced back to Apple. Additionally, our channel checks suggest that ordering patterns for the new Apple iPhone 5 and previous models remain robust," Perkins wrote, in a research note. If that is indeed the case, gross margin concerns may be overblown for the world's largest technology company. Qualcomm ( QCOM) also made the case that ASPs had improved during its most recent earnings call. With Qualcomm so closely tied to Apple, perhaps gross margin concerns are a bit overblown. We'll find out after the close whether gross margins and guidance will boost the iPhone maker, or whether Apple's losing its shine. -- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York >Contact by Email. Follow @Commodity_Bull