Is Apple Sweet or Sour?

When it comes to big—really big earnings reports, Apple is the top banana.

Even though hundreds of companies have already reported their quarterly results, Apple is the one everyone is watching. It releases its numbers after the stock market closes on Tuesday and the suspense is building.

Just look at some of the headlines today. “Apple Has an Identity Crisis” in The Wall Street Journal. From USA Today:“Day of Reckoning for Apple?”

Actually, there is always hype ahead of Apple’s earnings report. But this one is particularly important. Based on analyst estimates, this could be the first time in a decade that Apple reports a year-over-year decline in earnings. Also, Apple stock has tumbled 22 percent in the past three months and it has plunged more than 50 percent since its peak of $705 in September.

So the clock is ticking to that 4 p.m. ET announcement from Apple.

Here are the key numbers to watch to see if Apple beats them. The estimate for earnings per share: $10.12. Revenue: $42.6 billion. Listen carefully for Apple’s revenue outlook for the current quarter. Analysts are expecting it to be in the mid-$30 billion range. Anything above that would be a positive.

Apple stock is up about 2 percent today to around $400. There have been stock upgrades and downgrades recently from just about every analyst. Collin Gillis of BGC Partners put a “buy” rating on the stock yesterday, telling clients, “jump in the fire, as any Apple good news could boost the stock.”

Meanwhile, the chief investment officer at Aegis Capital has the most bearish forecast, calling for Apple to trade at $100 between now and 2014!

We’ll have more analysis tonight on what’s next for Apple and whether or not it should be a core holding in your portfolio. Be sure to watch Nightly Business Report Tuesday night.

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