Apple’s stock is down today, and the reason seems to be another brutal report about the state of iPhone demand.This time it’s from Susquehanna analyst Chris Caso. He basically hits the same notes all the other analysts have hit in the last week — iPhone suppliers had their orders significantly cut suggesting demand for the iPhone is much worse than expected.
But there’s something about Caso’s report that’s stronger than the other reports we’ve read. Maybe it’s that he’s more through and convincing. Whatever the case may be, it sounds really bad for Apple. Eric Savitz at Forbes has the note, and we’ll break out some of the most relevant bits here.
Caso writes that “something has indeed changed” for Apple, and “iPhone shipments are likely to miss consensus expectations” for the December or March quarters, or both.
Update: As soon as we published, we saw that Philip Elmer DeWitt has a good take down of Caso’s work. Basically, Caso called for Apple to whiff on sales during last December’s quarter. And Apple crushed it.From our perspective, the difference seems to be that Caso isn’t alone in his call. Lots of analysts are worried about iPhone 5 production and demand.
But, as with all things like this, it’s buyer beware! Caso could be wrong. Either way, we can’t wait to hear Apple’s earnings report to see if all these analysts are totally off.
Here’s three big paragraphs that sum up what Caso is seeing and what he’s thinking:
- “Our checks suggest the production cuts were more than just one or two component suppliers who overbuilt inventory … Our production forecast is based on checks that are consistent across a wide range of suppliers. Indeed, we do hear that some excess inventory was built during the quarter. Unfortunately, consensus expectations were based on the 45-50 million Q4 production forecast that we and others had been seeing for some time.”
- “When we met with suppliers in early December, they had expected a production pattern similar to last year, with a very mild sequential decline in Q1 … When we spoke with the same suppliers over the past few days, their view had changed. Of course, AAPL could have been inflating the production numbers to ensure that they had enough inventory on hand. Again however, Street expectations (and we believe supplier expectations) were based on the inflated numbers. In addition, since the cuts occurred before the China launch, we don’t think this had anything to do with China. A strong China launch could help the Q1 build plans improve, but that doesn’t answer the question about what happened during Q4.”
- “We won’t claim to know any more than anyone else about sell-through – and since iPhone is sold in over 90 countries, we’re sceptical of anyone’s ability to know more than we do … Instead, we base our analysis on production data, which has been a reliable indicator in the past. And the most plausible interpretation of that production data is that demand is below expectations. That may now be already reflected in the stocks. And for the component suppliers, we don’t think our full production expectations were reflected in estimates in the first place, which is why we didn’t take down our estimates for the AAPL component suppliers. But we do certainly think something has changed.”