Last year Apple missed the analyst numbers, with revenue of $28 billion and profit of $6.62 billion. A pretty good quarter, one might say, but analysts had expected $29.5 billion.

This year, analysts have a consensus estimate of $35.8 billion. Apple has only issued guidance for $34 billion.

The big question — which Apple CEO Tim Cook seemingly avoided intentionally at the company’s recent big product unveiling — is how many iPhone 5s did Apple sell. But by telling the world that Apple had sold over 100 million iPads, Cook revealed iPad sales numbers of perhaps 15 million in the last quarter — less than expectations that ranged as high as 18 million.

So the iPhone numbers will determine whether or not Apple meets or exceeds its numbers.

This earnings announcement will be an important one for Apple. It’s stock has risen about 50 percent this year, but it has slumped somewhat lately as competition in the pivotal smartphone and tablet segments continues to heat up … and as the iPad mini came out more expensive than anticipated.

Above: Apple stock over the last three months versus the NASDAQ

Image Credit: Google Finance

When earnings were announced for this quarter last year, Apple slumped 6 percent when the results were perceived as a miss.

Here’s what Apple analyst Gene Munster and his firm, Piper Jaffray, expect:

Earnings will be released at about 4 p.m. EST, only about an hour from now.

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