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Gaming Apple's First Quarter Earnings

Time to find out if it really was "an iPad Christmas."

Expect some big numbers from Apple when the company reports financials after market close tomorrow.

The first quarter, for which Apple posts earnings Monday, is historically the company’s strongest, covering the annual holiday shopping binge. And Apple headed into this year’s with a particularly strong product line up — the iPhone 5s and 5c, and the new iPad air and retina iPad mini. So the company could make quite a showing. As CEO Tim Cook said when Apple last reported earnings in October, “We think it’s going to be an iPad Christmas.

We’ll find out just how accurate a prediction that is after the bell tomorrow, but analysts are certainly expecting it to be. As BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk told Re/code, “The iPad Air is truly a great product and tablets should be at a key inflection point along the consumer adoption curve. We’ll see if it actually shows in the numbers.”

Consensus estimates among analysts surveyed by FactSet call for Apple to post a profit of $14.09 a share on revenue of $57.47 billion. Apple itself has said it believes revenues will come in somewhere between $55 billion and $58 billion.

Given the holidays, sales of Apple’s marquee products are also expected to be high. Average estimates compiled by Apple 2.0 call for 54.1 million iPhones, 25 million iPads and 4.58 million Macs.

Big numbers, as I said, and the makings of a big quarter. Perhaps not an old school Apple beat — those may be a thing of the past, now that the company strives to provide more realistic guidance. But a strong quarter and one that sets the stage for what may be a big year.

“I think we see revenues at the high end of the company’s guided range with better than expected iPad units and iPhone units slightly lower than the higher estimates due to soft iPhone 5C sales,” Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair told Re/code. “I think the stock works from here as we are on the cusp of some new product and platform introductions that I think investors will increasingly care about.”

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