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Analysts Expect Continued Strong iPhone Sales Will Drive Apple's March Quarter Results

Strong sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus may help Apple exceed analysts' expectations in its second-quarter results.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

As Apple prepares to report its March quarter results after the market closes Monday, analysts are expecting a strong quarter thanks to sustained sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Analysts estimate that Apple will report second-quarter earnings of $2.16 a share, compared with a split-adjusted $1.66 from a year ago, according to a consensus of 40 analysts polled by Thompson Reuters. The street projects revenue of $56 billion, compared with $45.6 billion reported a year earlier.

Several analysts predict the results will be buoyed by continued strong demand for Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Bernstein Research’s A.M. Sacconaghi projects shipments of nearly 60 million iPhones in the quarter. That would represent a 37 percent increase over a year ago, when Apple shipped 43.7 million phones.

Smartphones are Apple’s cash cow, accounting for nearly 70 percent of its revenue in its December quarter and dwarfing sales of Macs and iPads. The company sold 74.5 million iPhones over the holidays, helping it achieve a milestone as the most profitable quarter for a publicly traded company.

Investors will pay close attention to iPhone numbers for evidence of continued above-average sales, notes Neil Cybart, a former Wall Street analyst whose firm, Above Avalon, pays close attention to Apple. Although the iPhone appears to be gaining share in the U.S. and in Europe, he expects China will be the primary driver of iPhone sales in the quarter.

The newly launched Apple Watch won’t be a factor in second-quarter results. But analysts will look to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to provide investors with details about the April 24 debut, which marks the company’s first new product category since the 2010 introduction of the iPad.

Apple hasn’t released any information about preorders, which started April 10. One shopping data firm estimated that 957,000 people in the U.S. preordered an Apple Watch on the first day it was available, based on its panel of two million online shoppers. When the product officially went on sale last Friday, it was available for purchase at only a handful of high-end boutiques around the world.

Sacconaghi estimates the Apple Watch is fetching an average price of around $575 (with fewer people buying the entry-level Sport model than anticipated), and boasts a healthy 55 percent gross margin.

Apple also is expected to update its capital return program on Monday’s earnings call.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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