Apple suppliers’ banner July indicates upcoming iPhone 5, iPad mini launch

Gregg Keizer
19 August, 2012
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Apple’s suppliers had a banner July, providing yet another clue that the company has geared up production to release a new iPhone and a smaller iPad in four weeks, an analyst said.

According to Topeka Capital Markets’ Brian White, his “Apple Monitor” – an index of Taiwanese component makers that derive more than half of their revenue from sales to Apple – jumped 14 percent from June to July, the largest month-over-month increase for any July.

The sales gains were significantly higher than the average June-to-July increase or 8.5 percent over the last seven years.

“We believe this strength reflects the Apple supply chain ramping up production of new products for Apple that are expected to launch this September,” White said in a research note to clients last week.

White and other analysts expect that Apple will launch its next iPhone – pegged by pundits as the ‘iPhone 5′ in lieu of any name released by Apple – as well as a smaller 7.85in. iPad to compete with the increasing number of similar-sized, lower-priced tablets from companies such as Amazon, Google and Samsung.

Apple, of course, has said nothing about a debut of the next iPhone, much less a scaled-down iPad, but speculation has focused on a possible September 12 launch of both.

All the Cupertino, Calif., company has admitted is a lower margin for the quarter ending September 30. Last month, Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer, told analysts during an earnings call that the smaller margin – a predicted 38.5 percent, the first time in almost two years that Apple’s guidance has been below 40 percent – would be due to a “fall transition” (Australian spring), being the launch of one or more new products.

This year’s June-to-July Apple Monitor boost was double the 7 percent growth in July 2011, another piece of evidence, White said, that supports the idea that the iPhone 5 will launch next month rather than mimic the timetable of last year’s iPhone 4S, which Apple introduced October 4 2011.

White read his Apple Monitor as a sure sign that Apple’s looking at a big third quarter and an even larger fourth.

“[This] sets up what we believe will be the biggest second-half product launch in Apple’s history,” White said.

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