Analyst: Apple's Gross Margins on New iPod nano Pushing 50%

A teardown of the new iPod nano revealed that Appleis gross margins on the manufacturing of the new device could be as high as 50%, thanks to a steep drop in NAND flash prices, according to a report issued Thursday by Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Craig Berger.

Mr. Bergeris analysis of the nanois contents also revealed that, as expected, PortalPlayer no longer provides the system-on-a-chip inside the device, which he said was "consistent with managementis iproduct transition setbacki announcement from last spring." In addition, three chips inside the device are simply marked "Apple" and are of unknown design origin, a marked change from the previous edition, which had no such chips. The analyst believes that one of those is the Samsung ARM processor, which replaces PortalPlayeris offering.

He noted that one of the other mystery chips is probably "the audio driver and codec, a socket formerly supplied by Wolfson Micro. Whether Wolfson is supplying the silicon for this new Nano still remains unknown, as does the functionality of the third iApplei marked chip located on the back of the printed circuit board near the flash memory. We look forward to further researching these matters with the proper equipment set at a later date."

Cypress, Linear Tech, National Semi, Silicon Storage Tech, and Samsung all returned to supply chips for the second-generation iPod nano.

Mr. Berger does not provide coverage of Appleis stock. He wrote the report to assess PortalPlayer -- he maintained his "Hold" rating on that stock and kept his US$10 price target, given the companyis loss of the iPod nano business. As for Apple, its stock has continued on an upward trend since Tuesdayis product announcements, reaching $74.36, a 0.22% boost for the day, as of 2:19 PM EST on Thursday.

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