An apple reported earnings for its fiscal second quarter on Thursday after markets closed.

Investor expectations are low, and Apple can beat them even if sales growth is weak. In February, Apple said it expected sales similar to last year’s $94.84 billion in the same period and flat iPhone sales.

Here’s what analysts expect from Apple, according to LSEG consensus estimates:

  • Earnings per share: $1.50
  • income: $90.01 billion

Here’s how Apple’s business units are expected to fare in the March quarter, according to LSEG estimates:

  • iPhone revenue: $46.00 billion
  • Mac revenue: $6.86 billion
  • iPad revenue: $5.91 billion
  • Revenue from wearables, home and accessories: $8.08 billion
  • Service income: $23.27 billion

Analysts expect Apple to give a forecast for the current quarter of about $83.23 billion in sales, which would be 1.8% annual growth. Apple shares are down about 10% this year, underperforming rivals and the broader market. Some worry that the 2023 iPhone 15 may see weak demand.

But the biggest theme investors will be watching is the general trend in Apple’s third-largest market: China. In the December quarter, sales fell 13% in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $15.25 billion in regional sales in China, which would be a 14% year-over-year decline.

Even worse is what the decline may indicate: worsening conditions in a key market for Apple, where it also makes most of its products. Chinese government agencies over the past year have been it is reported asked staff to limit the use of “foreign” devices – the iPhone – suggesting that Apple may not have the support of China’s national leadership.

Apple also faces increased competition from domestic companies, including Huawei, which recently unveiled a 5G smartphone despite US controls on the export of advanced chips.

“AAPL downgraded significantly amid weak iPhone 15 cycle and fears Apple’s China business is structurally damaged,” Bernstein analyst Tony Sacconaghi wrote in a note last week. It has an outstanding stock rating.

But Sacconaghi doesn’t see Apple being permanently hampered by Chinese Communist Party sentiment, calling the current weak cycle “cyclical rather than structural” and pointing to Apple’s historical instability in the region.

“In strong iPhone cycles, Apple’s revenue in China typically grows much faster than Apple overall as Chinese consumers embrace the new phone,” Sacconaghi wrote. “A strong embrace is usually followed by several quarters of weaker (and often negative year-over-year) growth, as we’re seeing now.”

Third-party data for China is also not strong.

Data from Counterpoint Research showed Huawei grew 70% year-on-year in March, while Apple fell 19%, falling to third place. However, analysis of the data suggests that “preliminary signs of improving iPhone demand … are broader than expected,” UBS’s David Vogt wrote this week.

Meanwhile, government statistics show iPhone sales down 33% in Februarysecond consecutive month of decline in shipments.

Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Rakers said in a March note that iPhone sales could decline 20% year over year in the quarter.

Expectations for the quarter have been muted, and how Apple says it sees the current quarter shaping up may be more important than its March quarter results.

“There’s a chance Apple could see a relief rally/shrink higher on a ‘better than feared’ earnings report/guidance,” Morgan Stanley analyst Eric Woodring, who overweighted the stock, wrote in a note in April. “It creates a complex setup and one that we don’t believe investors should necessarily have to face.”

Apple hasn’t provided 2020 guidance, but company executives are providing data points that analysts can use to forecast sales. “June quarter revenue and gross margin guidance will be critical this quarter,” Woodring wrote.

Apple also typically informs investors during second-quarter earnings of how much it plans to spend on share buybacks for the rest of the year.

“We expect Apple to update its return on equity versus profit plans for the March quarter, and we don’t expect a significant departure from recent plans,” Woodring wrote. In May 2023, Apple said it had authorized an additional $90 billion in buybacks.