Sunday, July 21, 2013

Earnings: Microsoft and Google miss forecasts

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FORTUNE -- When it comes to quarterly earnings reports, Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) can be tough acts to follow.

Not this quarter.

Wounded each in their own way by the shift from desktop to mobile computing, both companies reported disappointing earnings Thursday, and their shares fell sharply in after-hours trading -- Google by $37.81?(-4.15%) and Microsoft by $2.23?(-6.29%).

Apple (AAPL) is up next, and despite the many wounds it's suffered over the past months, it may be -- paradoxically -- in the best shape of the three.

For one thing, the company repositioned itself years ago, shifting its main source of revenue from desktop to mobile computing -- first with the iPhone (2007), then with the iPad (2010).

For another, expectations for the June quarter are so low (see charts above)?that the company has a good chance of beating them.

As we reported last week, this is Apple's quarter of lowered expectations, in which the Street has reconciled itself in advance to zero revenue growth year over year.

The average revenue estimate among the 56 Apple analysts Fortune polled --?37 Wall Street professionals and 19 amateurs -- is $35.4 billion, with the pros at $34.99 (a bit below last year's $35.02 billion), and the amateurs a bit above at $36.18 billion. Apple's guidance was a range: $33.5 billion to $35.5 billion.

Earnings per share, however, are a different story.

Apple is?once again?facing?what analysts call a "difficult compare" in terms of the company's overall?profitability. Last year at this time Apple reported a gross margin of 42.8%, driven largely by high-margin iPhone and iPad sales. This year, more of its revenue is coming from lower-margin iPad minis and discounted older-model iPhones, and in April Apple warned analysts not to expect gross margins outside the 36% to 37% range.

That will knock the stuffing out of Apple's Q3 earnings. Apple didn't offer EPS guidance, but our analysts can do the math.

They came up with an average EPS of $7.48, nearly 20% below the $9.32 Apple reported in the same quarter last year. The average among the pros was $7.31 (which happens also to be the consensus Thomson Financial was reporting Friday morning).?The amateurs this quarter are only slightly more bullish at $7.81.

We'll find out who was closest to the mark when Apple reports its Q3 2013 earnings after the markets close on Tuesday, July 23.

Below: The individual analyst's revenue and earnings numbers, listed this time in descending order of EPS estimates, with the pros in blue and the amateurs in green.?Thanks one more time to?Posts at Eventide's Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.

Rev and eps Q3


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