NAND Flash component pricing seems to have stabilized recently, which means companies canit count on dropping prices to help keep production costs down. Apple, however, is fairly well insulated from the change thanks to its practice of signing multi-quarter contracts for the memory used in the iPod nano, iPod shuffle, and iPhone, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
"The vast majority of Appleis NAND flash buying is through multi-quarter contracts and is not impacted by changes in spot pricing," he said. "Apple has likely locked into contract pricing on NAND flash with Samsung for the next several quarters and, therefore, would be insulated from the recent changes."
Appleis deals with memory manufacturers also means that the company is more likely to be able to maintain a supply for product manufacturing -- something that some of its competitors may not be able to manage heading into the holiday buying season. Although Apple has been able to keep iPhones in only about half its stores, it is able to maintain a steady supply, and thanks to its buying practices will be in a better position to try to maintain that supply through the end of the year.
Looking forward, Mr. Munster expects that Apple will be releasing new iPod models that, like the iPhone, run OS X and include a touch screen interface. Mr. Munster commented "While Apple has been criticized for diversifying its product lineup, we believe Apple is focusing its offerings on the OS X software, which is used in Macs, Apple TVs, iPhones, and soon, iPods."
Mr. Munster is maintaining his "Outperform" rating and US$160 target price for Appleis stock. Apple is currently trading in the pre-market at $133.15, up 0.76 (0.57%).