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Apple set to beat expectations

Apple will exceed expectations when it announces its quarterly results for the final three months of 2014 today, according to industry analysts.

It is expected to exceed the forecasts it was set, largely thanks to record-breaking sales of the latest generation of iPhone - the 6 and 6 Plus.

Apple announced shortly after the smartphone's release in September that it had sold 10 million units in its first three days of sale - a company record - before going on to break another company record at the end of last year's third quarter by confirming sales of more than 40 million.

Analysts polled by market expert Fortune said they believe iPhone sales will be announced at between 60 and 70 million units - which, at the high end, would be 20 million more than were sold in 2013, the previous company record.

But iPad sales are expected to continue on a downward curve, as they have been for the last six months - falling 12% in the last quarter. Some experts have suggested that the launch of the new iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 and the lowering of the original iPad mini price to under £200 could see a return to growth for Apple's tablet.

One area that will be of interest is Apple's growth in China. The Cupertino-based firm opened its latest retail store in the country last week, and it is predicted that China will contribute the most revenue of any country or territory in the results.

The Financial Times is even suggesting that iPhone sales in China could be higher than the US for the first time.

Analysts are also alert to the prospect of clues towards the launch of the much-anticipated Apple Watch within the results, with suggestions that Apple's revenue predictions for the next quarter could hint about whether or not the company's first wearable, unveiled in September, will be on sale by the time the results come around again.

Rumours suggest a March launch date for the product, meaning it would feature in the next round of results.

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