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Apple Expected to Have Blockbuster Holiday Quarter -- Thanks to iPhone 6

Robust iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales helped Apple record a merry holiday season, analysts predict.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

It’s all about the iPhone 6.

As Apple prepares to release details of its holiday quarter, Wall Street is anticipating blockbuster results buoyed by strong sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which have helped the U.S. company win in overseas markets.

Analysts predict that robust global sales of Apple’s new generation of bigger-screen smartphones will help the Cupertino company post earnings of $2.59 a share on revenue of $67.5 billion.

Sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus through the December quarter could hit 67 million units, based on estimates by UBS and Morgan Stanley. More conservative projections, from Piper Jaffray, peg sales at 66 million units, while others think the number could go as high as 70 million units in the quarter.

That performance, wherever it falls, would surpass Apple’s holiday quarter sales record set last year of 51 million iPhones.

Apple has been gaining ground on rival phone maker Samsung. A report released earlier this month from Kantar Worldpanel showed the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus making market-share strides around the globe since its introduction in the U.S. on Sept. 19.

The larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus has been a major contributor to Apple’s success in Asia and beyond. New data from Counterpoint Research finds that Apple reached a 12 percent share of the Chinese market in November, with sales up 45 percent from a year ago. That puts Apple in third place, behind Chinese handset manufacturers Xiaomi and Lenovo.

The company captured a dominant share of the Japanese smartphone market, accounting for more than half of all smartphone sales in October and November, according to Counterpoint. Apple even edged out domestic favorite Sony, whose Xperia fell to a 17 percent share.

Even in the U.S., the larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus likely accounts for 30 percent of sales, based on responses to a survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Apple declined to comment before Tuesday’s release of its first-quarter 2015 earnings.

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