When Apple (AAPL 4.01%) announces its quarterly earnings on Tuesday, the results might further depress its already shell-shocked shareholders.
Even an Apple bull such as Gene Munster, the Piper Jaffray analyst, told investors last month that he has begun bracing for a rough pronouncement. This week, as he sees it, there probably won't be a major Apple product announcement. You know -- the sort of declaration that tends to set Wall Street drooling and exclaiming, "Ka-ching!" He anticipates revenues of about $41 billion, approximating the low end of the company's guidance of $41 billion to $43 billion and below Wall Street's projection of roughly $42.8 billion, as noted by Thomson Reuters.
Further, Munster expects iPhone sales of $35.5 million and Mac sales of 3.8 million, well under the 37 million for iPhones and the 4.2 million for Macs that many have been expecting to see for the three-month period. There's more jolting news, to be sure, but I can see that you're already unnerved.
As CNNMoney put it: "All in all, it's a pretty pessimistic outlook from one of Apple's most loyal and enthusiastic supporters."
And you know what my answer is? Don't worry, Apple Nation. Come back from the ledge.
It's all going to be OK -- if you have the strong stomach and the Herculean patience to wait out this slump. But do you?
Much was made recently both in the media and on Wall Street when Apple's widely followed stock continued its descent and dipped below the $400 threshold. There was such incredulity and nervousness that you'd have thought instead that Apple had to contend with reports of frogs crawling out of Macs or kryptonite dripping out of iPhones.
Me? Call me crazy -- it wouldn't be the first time -- but I detect a buying opportunity at work here. It's not merely a cranky contrarian's call of buying on the dips. Nor am I a technical analyst who can point to historic drops that have been followed by sharp rises.
I believe this because Apple will ultimately rebound on the wings of expected product news later this year. Apple's customers have been known to be very loyal to their array of "i" wares.
True, competitors have proven that Apple is hardly the only game in town anymore. Nor is Apple the coolest kid on the block, in the eyes of skeptics who are smarting from those Siri commercials. Apple all but promised us that Siri, Apple's voice-activated help desk, would not only coo the time of day in Jakarta and the capital of Alaska, but rush right over and clean your house as well.
But I believe that the clarion call of new Apple products will bring back a strong sense of the goodwill that Apple enjoyed under Steve Jobs. In those days, young consumers lined up outside stores to buy the newest iPhone or iPad the way their old-fogey parents camped out to snap up the latest Beatles album (and please don't ask derisively, "What's an album?").
Indeed, Munster is leading the call for a second-half charge by Apple.
Last month, even as he was issuing that sobering quarterly earnings projection, Munster also felt it necessary to tell investors:
We believe the risk-reward to owning shares of AAPL is favorable given the back half of the year will likely have several product announcements that should reaccelerate earnings growth from a negative 14% in the first half of 2013 to a positive 15% in the back half. While we believe that the Street numbers are too high for March and June, we view the risk around the quarter and guide as small as the March report and June guide will likely mark the turning point as investors look to the back half opportunity with new product launches.
To close, Munster restated his Apple target price of $767.
Here's what it all boils down to, and I'm not talking about phones and gadgets and elevision commercials.
I'm asking: Do you have the stomach to buy Apple's stock right now?
Tim Cook, who had the thankless task of succeeding the legendary the visionary Jobs, is a work in progress to many of Apple's followers. Since Jobs died in 2011, Apple's fans have waited to see if Cook could do three things: hold Apple together following the death of their beloved leader, present himself as a steady manager, and give everyone help with the presentation of bright new products, which would continue the momentum that Apple so enjoyed under Jobs -- and which Wall Street craves.
On job one: Check.
On job two: Check.
But on job three, Cook's Apple has yet to prove itself. But it won't be checkmate for shareholders. Just watch. Apple will rise again.