That naturally spells a higher bar as Tim Cook's company gets set to report on Tuesday afternoon. Currently, the consensus among analysts polled by FactSet is for Apple to report revenue of $88.41 billion (up 5% annually) and GAAP EPS of $4.54 (up 9%) for the seasonally big December quarter (fiscal first quarter).
For the March quarter -- Apple provides revenue guidance in its reports -- the revenue consensus stands at $62.45 billion (up 8%).
I'll be live-blogging Apple's report, which is expected at 4:30 P.M. ET on Tuesday, and its earnings call, which is scheduled for 5:00 P.M.. Here are some things for investors to keep an eye on.
1. The Wearables Boom
It's no secret that Apple Watch and (especially) AirPods sales have been taking off. Cook has disclosed on Apple's last two earnings calls that wearables sales (they cover the Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones) rose "well over 50%" in the preceding quarter. And there are plenty of reasons to think the momentum continued in the December quarter.
Currently, the consensus is for Apple's "Wearables, Home & Accessories" revenue, which covers all hardware sales outside of iPhones, iPads and Macs, to have grown 38% annually in the December quarter to $9.85 billion, following 54% growth in the September quarter. Strong demand for AirPods in general, and the sold-out AirPods Pro in particular, might have driven upside.
2. iPhone Sales
The December quarter is by far the biggest one for iPhone sales and there have been plenty of signs -- among them, analyst reports, media reports and commentary from chip suppliers -- indicating that demand for Apple's 2019 iPhone lineup has been stronger than expected. But for now, the consensus is still for iPhone revenue to be down 1% to $51.38 billion, after having dropped 15% in the year-ago period.
3. Services Revenue and Stats
Services revenue has been steadily rising like clockwork. It was up 18% annually in the September quarter, and -- with Apple getting a lift from a slew of recent services launches -- the December quarter consensus is for Services revenue to be up 20% to $13.06 billion.
In addition to the Services revenue print, keep an eye out for Apple's usual earnings call disclosures about the performance of individual services businesses (the App Store, Apple Pay, Apple Music, etc.). If Apple feels like sharing some initial stats for services such as TV+, Apple Arcade and the Apple Card, the earnings call wouldn't be a bad time to do so.
4. Installed Base Numbers
In recent years, Apple has used its December quarter calls to share a new figure or two about its installed base. A year ago, the company disclosed that its total active device installed base had risen by 100 million annually to 1.4 billion, and that this base included more than 900 million iPhones.
5. iPad and Mac Sales
The December quarter is also a seasonally big one for iPad and (to a lesser extent) Mac sales. However, with each business facing tough annual comparisons (a year ago, iPad and Mac sales were up 17% and 9%, respectively), growth expectations are subdued.
Currently, the consensus is for iPad revenue to be roughly flat at $6.73 billion, and for Mac revenue to be down 3% to $7.18 billion. Intel (INTC) PC CPU shortages might have been a headwind for Mac sales.
6. Chinese Demand
Easing trade tensions, iPhone price cuts and strong services and wearables growth have all been tailwinds for Apple in China lately, following a rough start to the year. In addition, it looks as if the iPhone 11/11 Pro have performed well in China.
Worth noting: With Apple's "Greater China" revenue having dropped 27% annually in the year-ago quarter, Greater China sales are facing fairly easy comps.
7. Stock Buybacks
One quarter after another, Apple has been a major buyer of its own stock -- $18 billion worth of shares were repurchased in the September quarter, and $17 billion in the June quarter. Unless Apple's recent run-up gave management pause, it's likely that a lot of stock was repurchased in the December quarter as well.