Apple earnings: Most boring quarter of the year still holds some intrigue

Apple Inc. will report its most boring quarter of the year Tuesday, but there is still at least a little bit of drama.

Spring is typically the least exciting period for Apple AAPL, -2.00% since many people who would be interested in buying an iPhones have either gotten one already or are holding out for the new lineup, typically released in late September. The June quarter tends to be Apple’s smallest in terms of revenue and iPhone sales.

There are still a number of reasons to pay attention to what Apple executives say on Tuesday afternoon, after the company reports earnings for its fiscal third quarter. Investors mainly should watch for any commentary or indications about timing and pricing for the next iPhone release.

“FQ3…results are likely to mean little to investors barring a significant surprise to iPhone units, gross margins, or services trajectory,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote. “Investor focus has shifted to iPhone demand in FY19 with the next-generation iPhones.”

See also: How iPhone buying patterns have changed over time, in one chart

Apple’s quarterly outlook for the coming period will be a key indicator of Apple’s expectations for the next iPhone. There’s a tendency to parse that forecast for hints about what the company plans to do with its next batch of phones. A higher-than-expected outlook might give investors the sense that Apple plans to make its new phones available for purchase at some point in September, meaning they’d factor into fiscal fourth-quarter sales. In the current upgrade cycle, the iPhone X didn’t come out until November, and it was in short supply early on.

When thinking about Apple’s forecast, however, Sacconaghi cautions against overexcitement.

“We note that historically, revenue guidance for FY Q4 has *not* been a helpful predictor of the strength of the forthcoming cycle,

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