Analyst: iPhone Production Slowing

Apple may be cutting back slightly on its iPhone 3G production during the December quarter, according to UBS analyst Maynard Um. Based on his supply chain checks, Apple looks set to ship between 4 and 5 million iPhones in the quarter, down between 1.7 and 2.3 million units based on some analyst estimates.

"Our checks indicate various iPhone supply chain cuts by 1.7 million units to 2.3 million (versus 9 million in the prior quarter). Additional checks show production could be 4 million in [the December quarter]," Mr. Um said. "Although supply chain order and production plans can vary week to week, we believe recent data points may suggest unit volumes weaker than our current estimate of 5 million."

While iPhone 3G production may be down for the quarter, Appleis iPhone-related overhead, or selling, general and administrative expense, looks to be in line with its smartphone competitors RIM and Palm.

"We estimate Appleis SG&A per handset is in line with peers (to Appleis credit). We find it surprising that Apple is able to achieve this level of cost discipline at such an early stage in the iPhone lifecycle. RIM and Palm experienced materially higher SG&A costs early in their product cycles," he said.

Mr. Um is maintaining his "Neutral" rating and US$115 target price for Appleis stock. Apple is currently trading at $108.64, down 2.35 (2.12%).

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