Apple shares up ahead of earnings report

Apple shares were up slightly in Monday, as analysts predicted a strong quarter for the company when it reports holiday sales.

Company stocks had risen just over 1 percent in morning trading to $553.70 a share.

The tech giant’s earnings report, scheduled to drop after closing bell Monday, will shed some light on how well several of its new products, including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPad mini with retina display fared over the traditionally busy December quarter.

Analysts have been very optimistic about iPhone sales; Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Jr. expects sales as high as 57.5 million, according to a report from CNET.

In a note to investors last week, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said that he also expects a strong quarter but cautioned that Apple will need a major new product if it wants to see strong stock growth.

Apple’s recent deal with China’s largest carrier, China Mobile, is likely to boost sales for the iPhone and iPad, Hargreaves said, but “a massively profitable new product is necessary to renew growth and drive upside to our estimates.”

According to Yahoo Finance, the consensus estimate is for Apple earnings per share of $13.47 on revenue of $57.46 billion for the quarter.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has hinted that Apple has some “exciting” new products in the pipeline for 2014, but has remained characteristically tight-lipped about what those might be.

Analysts widely expect the company to jump into the wearables market with a watch or similar device in the next two years; there is also regular speculation that the firm will launch a television or television accessory in the future.

A recent report from the Wall Street Journal also raised the possibility that Apple may be looking at increasing the size of its iPhone screen with two new models this year. The report, which relied an unnamed “people familiar with the situation,” said that the new phones would have metal casings similar to the current iPhone 5s, rather than the plastic used for the current iPhone 5c.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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