In normal times, today’s earnings call would tell us two important things about AAPL: how well the company did last quarter, and how well it expects to do in the current one. But these are not normal times.

Although today’s earnings report will answer the first question, there’s widespread agreement among analysts that the Q3 results are not particularly important – the coronavirus crisis has hit Apple’s supply chain, and dampened demand, so the numbers are going to say more about the state of the global economy than they do about Apple specifically …

As for the second question – what Apple expects from the current quarter – there’s also general agreement that Apple is probably not going to provide any guidance, because there are still too many uncertainties around the launch timing and availability of the iPhone 12.

All the same, there are things we can learn, and Business Insider pulled together reports from Bank of America, DA Davidson, Goldman Sachs, Wedbush, and Morgan Stanley on what those might be.

Bank of America says it will be paying particular attention to three things.

Investors should keep an eye out for weak margin growth and any deceleration in its services business, the team said. Apple continues to diversify its revenue streams from relying on the iPhone, and its services segment is one of its biggest bets. Any slowdown in share repurchase plans could also hint at Apple growing more cautious of its future cash flow.

DA Davidson things the previous quarter may not be as bad as some fear and will be listening out for four items of interest.

The firm said it believes the coronavirus pandemic “has stimulated demand for what had been some of the slower growing products” in Apple’s portfolio, namely its laptops and tablets, as customers geared up for months of remote work. Services including Apple Music and Apple TV+ may have enjoyed a similar boost, Forte said […]

Executives’ commentary on store re-closings, TV+ user growth, and supply chain restoration will be closely watched. Forte will also focus on updated comments regarding Apple’s rollout of 5G capable devices.

We already knew Goldman Sachs was fearful about Apple’s future: a week ago, the bank said buying AAPL was too risky. The bank hasn’t gotten any more optimistic since then, saying it’s not expecting anything in Apple’s results to change its mind.

Wedbush will be all ears for any news on China.

Commentary around demand snapping back in China will be closely watched alongside iPhone delay statements, Ives said. Wedbush expects roughly one-fifth of iPhone upgrades over the next year to come from China, and new virus outbreaks threaten to send the country back into lockdown.

Finally, noted Apple bull Morgan Stanley will be looking to see whether the upbeat view was accurate: that more people working and studying from home will have boosted both hardware and app sales.

The tech giant will likely beat consensus estimates due to better-than-expected product sales, the bank said. A record quarter for the App Store will bolster services growth.

We’ll of course be bringing you full coverage of today’s earnings call as it happens.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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