It's that time of the quarter, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) fans and detractors.

The class of Cupertino reports its fiscal second-quarter results tomorrow night, and that should be enough to get the shares moving one way or the other come Thursday.

I've been an Apple bull over the years, so I probably don't need to tell you which way the stock will be headed after the report. However, instead of waving my pompoms and breaking out some lame "we got Steve Jobs, yes we do -- we got Steve Jobs, how 'bout you" chant, let me spell out the reasons why the market should warm up to Apple's latest batch of numbers.

1. History is on its side
Apple's been trouncing Wall Street expectations since pretty much when the first iPods hit the market. One would think that years of feasting on a diet of crow would make Wall Street's finest a little smarter, but they continue to aim too low.

Let's just look at the past year of beatings.


EPS Estimate



Q2 2010 $2.45 $3.33 36%
Q3 2010 $3.12 $3.51 13%
Q4 2010 $4.08 $4.64 14%
Q1 2011 $5.40 $6.43 19%

 Source: Yahoo! Finance.

The smart money is always on Apple landing ahead of the pros.

The analysts aren't messing around. They see net income soaring 61% to $5.35 a share. Is this the quarter that Wall Street finally catches up to Apple or possibly even overshoots the tech darling?

It will happen one day, but it's still a bad bet in any single quarter.

2. Apple -- now with refreshing baked-in pessimism
Bearish historians will point out that shares of Apple have taken a hit even after a monster quarter.

They're right, but that's what usually happens after a strong Apple rally. The "sell on the news" mindset turns a strong report into a weak trading day.

I don't see that happening this week because there's no helium tank around.

Apple's stock closed at $340.65 on Jan. 18, the day it posted its fiscal first-quarter numbers. It's trading slightly lower than that now.

Plenty of negativity has kept Apple shares in check over the past three months, and a lot of it proved unwarranted.

Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI) Xoom and Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM) PlayBook seemed like legitimate iPad threats, but not anymore. Xoom hasn't set the world on fire as the first device powered by Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) tablet-optimized Android 3.0 Honeycomb. A stiff price tag got in the way of its impressive spec sheet. RIM's PlayBook hits stores today, but it has been critically panned. Its BlackBerry-tethered ways will make it little more than a niche tablet.

Several reports indicate that the Apple's annual iPhone updates may be off by a couple of quarters. An iPhone 5 delay isn't welcome news, but over the past three months we've seen the iPad 2 hit the market earlier than expected and the iPhone finally roll out to Verizon (NYSE: VZ) customers. Those audience-widening moves didn't move the stock higher.

Handset makers continue to flock to Android as an open-source platform. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) inked a deal with global handset giant Nokia (NYSE: NOK) to champion Windows Phone 7 as a mobile operating system. Does anyone seriously think that this will slow Apple down? The smartphone market is booming, with plenty of thick slices to go around in this thickening pie.

Sales tracker IDC reported a 10.7% drop in the stateside shipment of PC units during the first three months of the year, but Apple shipments actually climbed nearly 10% higher (and that's not factoring in what should be healthier growth overseas). Macs' domestic market share has grown from 7% to 8.5% of the shipments over the past year.

3. Apple's never been this cheap
What happens when a stock doesn't keep pace with its earnings growth? P/E ratios contract! Apple closed yesterday at 15 times this year's projected profitability and a mere 12 times next fiscal year's target.

This may be the country's most valuable tech stock, but it's hard to make an argument that it's overvalued. Unless someone has a valid argument for Macs, iPhones, and iPads falling out of favor, either the stock heads higher or the multiples head lower.

I'd call that a win-win for anyone with money on the sidelines.

4. Always bet on the bank
Apple closed out its first quarter with $59.7 billion in cash, equivalents, and marketable securities.

The pinata continues to grow with every passing quarter.

Apple has refused to return some of that money to shareholders through stock buybacks or initiating a dividend policy. It has also shied away from needle-moving acquisitions. Something's got to give, and investors will benefit either way.

I'm not suggesting that Apple will make a move to clear out its money tomorrow night. However, it does have growing sums of greenery collecting dust and meager interest. It's unlikely to let its share price meander for too much longer with money it can deploy to remedy the apathy.

Which way do you think Apple shares will head after tomorrow night's report? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.