Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty says that an analysis of Apple’s recent SEC filing strongly suggests that the company has not only made a big bet on the success of the iPhone 6, with large advance orders, but also that it is likely to launch the long-awaited iWatch this quarter.
The graph, obtained by Business Insider, shows the historical correlation between off-balance sheet commitments – the technical financial term for money invested in things like tooling, component purchases and manufacturing contracts – and quarterly revenue. Essentially, if you know how much Apple is investing in new products in one quarter, you can pretty accurately predict its revenue in the following quarter … The correlation between the two is, she says, almost perfect, with a 97 percent match. The massive 46 percent year-on-year jump in investment, which is also the highest quarter-on-quarter increase since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, tells the story, argues Huberty.
1. The iPhone 6 is going to be really big, and Apple is ramping up for it.
2. Apple has the iWatch coming, and it’s buying tools for its manufacturing partners to start cranking out iWatches.
We’ve already heard evidence that Apple is betting big on early sales of the iPhone 6, the WSJ reporting that Apple is placing orders for 70-80 million units this year and Foxconn confirming that it has hired 100,000 new workers for production of the new model. Analysts and government officials have also pointed to big component spends by the company.
It has to be noted that Huberty’s analysis supports her own prediction that iWatch sales will grow as quickly as those of the iPhone or iPad. It’s possible that the rumored two different iPhone models alone, along with new iPad and MacBook models, could account for this level of investment without the iWatch. But the numbers she points to are impressive, so whatever the reason behind the investments, it certainly looks like we can expect big things this quarter.