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Four numbers to watch in Apple's earnings — and four words to listen for

As the most valuable American company by market capitalization, Apple's financial results are an event that often has markets on edge. But as expectations for the next iPhone overshadow spring sales, the top and bottom line may not be top of mind for many on Wall Street.

Luckily, Tuesday night's report promises a wealth of data that could give savvy investors a hint into Apple's future plans.

1. iPhone sales

  • Fiscal Q3 shipments: 40.7 million expected by a StreetAccount consensus estimate
  • Fiscal Q3 iPhone revenue: $25.52 billion expected by a StreetAccount consensus estimate
  • Why it matters: Always an important metric for Apple, soft iPhone sales might point to an ongoing trend of consumers holding off to upgrade to the iPhone 8, setting expectations for the rest of the year. Analysts estimate there's a slew of people with sixth-generation iPhones — one of Apple's best sellers — that have to be upgraded sometime soon. The question is how soon.

2. Revenue and margin guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter

  • Fiscal Q4 margin guidance: 38.3 percent expected by StreetAccount consensus estimate
  • Fiscal Q4 revenue guidance expectations: $49.21 billion expected by Thomson Reuters
  • Why it matters: Again, analysts hope to decode not only how...