iPhone Production Cuts? Have They Been Confirmed by the Mesopotamian Liver Augur?
Though dismissed initially as the muddleheaded forecasting of an analyst with a questionable track record for such things, rumors that there’s been a radical drop in iPhone production have been lent a bit of credence by a second, similar report. Just days after Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Craig Berger claimed Apple’s fiscal first-quarter iPhone production would be more than 40 percent lower than production in its third, Maynard Um, an analyst for UBS Investment Research, said recent supply chain “chatter” around iPhone component orders indicates that production levels for the device may have declined by as much as 2.3 million units. “Our checks indicate various iPhone supply chain cuts by 1.7 million units to 2.3 million,” Um wrote, adding that if that’s the case, Apple (AAPL) will likely ship between four million and five million iPhones in the fourth quarter–down roughly two million units from the preceding quarter.
Now, there’s an obvious danger in making assumptions like this from supply chain chatter, as Um himself noted in his report. Smaller component orders might simply indicate that Apple’s manufacturing partners already have a healthy supply of components on hand. That said, they might also indicate a real drop in iPhone production. “Recent supply chain cuts have proven accurate (at least directionally),” Um wrote. “Hence, we believe recent data points may suggest unit volumes weaker than our current estimate of 5 million [for the December quarter].”