Expectations high for Apple's third-quarter results

Analysts expect Apple to report a 33 percent rise in earnings per share over last year when the company announces its earnings for the fiscal third quarter Wednesday afternoon.

According to the consensus of analysts surveyed by financial research firm Thomson First Call, Apple is expected to report earnings of 72 cents a share on revenues of $5.285 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2007. For its 2006 fiscal third quarter, Apple earned 54 cents a share and tallied $4.37 billion in sales.

The just-completed quarter marks the first earnings period where Apple will include results of its iPhone sales, although sales of the iPhone only began a days before quarter’s end. Because of the short time frame, the iPhone isn’t expected to dramatically impact Apple’s results for the quarter.

Apple shares fell sharply Tuesday morning, following AT&T’s quarterly report that it activated 146,000 iPhone subscribers for the June 30 quarter. That’s well below the estimates of up to 500,000 that some analysts anticipated—however, that only indicates the number of iPhones AT&T activated. There were widespread delays in activation during that first weekend, with some iPhone owners waiting several days before their phones became operational.

Apple’s most recent earnings reports have painted a rosy picture of the company’s performance. For the second quarter ended March 31, Apple reported a $770 million profit; that followed on the heals of a record-breaking $1 billion profit in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

Macworld.com will post Apple’s earnings when those figures are released on Wednesday, July 25 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. We will also provide live coverage of Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer’s phone call with Wall Street analysts Wednesday afternoon—that’s scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

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