However, the company understands this. This is why Apple has changed how it reports earnings -- from one single data point to a range of numbers for revenue, operating expenses and of course, margin. But with earnings coming up in a couple of weeks, how much improvement should investors expect?

That said, because "Apple is Apple," I'm sure the new phone will generate plenty of buzz and demand. Revenue will likely skyrocket because the Apple logo will be so prominent. But I don't expect the stock to do the same. The market dynamics have changed. And as such, expectations on the company are no longer through the roof.

We can talk about revenue all we want, but margin will certainly be the main focus since it continues to be Apple's biggest drawback. Management guided for a range of 37.5% to 38.5%. But it pales in comparison to where margin was a year ago at 47.4%.

It's worth noting that Samsung's Galaxy S4, which was released last month, and one full quarter ahead of Apple's new phone, has the potential to impact sales, which the Street is calling for $42.8 billion. I do wonder, though, what features will the phone present that will propel the stock to go above $500 -- for that matter, how about $600?

Can Apple achieve (let's say) $200 billion in revenue by this time next year? Better yet, can the new phone bring in enough EPS growth to get the stock back to its all-time high level of $705? Even if the ongoing success of the iPad and the iPad Mini were to help meet these robust revenue figures, will there be enough margin to support a P/E above 15?

While there are certainly plenty of question marks, I do believe in the long-term prospects of this company. Given that first-quarter unit sales fall short of expectations, coupled with growing competitive threats, Apple has to deliver more than just incremental improvements to the iPhone to get investors to believe again.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and the founder and producer of the investor Web site Saint's Sense. He has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.

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