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Three things to watch for in Apple's earnings announcement

Apple (AAPL) has a lot to live up to when it releases quarterly earnings after the closing bell. Investors want to know if the 43% runup in Apple’s stock from its 21-month low in early January is justified.

Despite weak iPhone sales and a cut to its quarterly revenue forecast, the Cupertino-based tech giant has added $300 billion of market value this year.

Wall Street analysts expect Apple to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of $2.36 per share on revenue of $57.4 billion dollars.

Here’s what investors will be watching for:

The China Trade

“China is Apple’s sacred cow,” Santosh Rao, Head of Research at Manhattan Venture Partners tells Yahoo Finance. “Thats where they need to perform.”

Poor iPhone sales in China were the main reason why Apple slashed its revenue forecast in January.

“People are delaying their refresh cycles to get new iPhones,” Rao says.

He says the iPhone is a big part of keeping customers in Apple’s ecosystem and

With iPhone sales shrinking, investors want to see evidence that Apple’s growth is coming from its services businesses, including video streaming and mobile gaming.

Hints about a 5G phone

Apple hasn’t released a new iPhone since September 2018. Now that it’s settled its long-running patent litigation with Qualcomm, analysts wonder when Apple will start using Qualcomm’s chips for a new 5G iPhone.

“It’s going to be delayed and definitely won’t be out in September,” according to Rao.

“Apple isn’t always first to market, but they get it right and they capture the market.”

Apple revenue breakdown

Plans for all that cash

Apple is cash-rich to the tune of $245 billion and investors want to know what the company has planned for all that money.

“Growth is tapering off at the high-end, so they need to return some of that money to shareholders,” says Rao.

Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty expects Apple to hike its dividend by 10% and predicts at least a $50 billion buyback increase.

Alexis Christoforous hosts The First Trade on Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AlexisTVNews.