Business

Apple’s Taiwan orders drop 24% in June, but it’s probably the calm before the storm

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Apple orders in Taiwan dropped by 24 percent year-over-year in June, and 11 percent quarter-over-quarter, according to one analyst’s report.

Apple analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets sent a research note early this morning with bad short-term news for Apple — and Apple shareholders — but some long-term light at the end of the tunnel. The second quarter is a seasonally slow period for Apple, but typically the company sees only a single percentage point of softening demand.

This year, the slump is massive.

“We believe softness is driven by continued sluggish trends in the higher-end part of [the] smartphone market and a pause ahead of new product launches (i.e., iPhones and iPads) in the September quarter, combined with a general economic malaise around the world,” White wrote.

There are a couple of caveats to the report, primarily related to Apple’s device-manufacturing partner Foxconn.¬†Although the electronics manufacturing giant is headquartered in Taiwan, its major production facilities are in China, where it is the largest private-sector employer in the country. Foxconn sales were up a slender one percent, less than its usual 14 percent (averaged over the last eight years) but at least not in negative territory.

Given Apple’s well-documented lack of new product introductions all through the middle of 2013, this seems to make sense. And it also seems to make sense that Apple is planning something very special for the fall — very likely some kind of major onslaught of new product introduction similar to what we saw in October of 2012, where Apple revamped more than two-thirds of its product line and introduced the iPad Mini, 4th-generation iPad, new iMac, the retina 13″ Macbook Pro, and more.

Foxconn has reportedly been hiring, a sign that big product launches are coming, and the iPhone 5S as well as the cheaper, plastic-bodied iPhone are both due post-summer. The new Mac Pro should also be arriving in that time frame, although that will be built in the U.S. and will not materially affect Apple revenues.

“We believe investors have shifted their focus around Apple from near-term demand trends to new product ramps over the next year that we believe will begin in the September quarter,” White said in the research note.

White maintained his price target for AAPL at $888, which takes some guts while the stock is at $422.


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