What’s Behind Apple’s Latest Troubles?

Friday’s torrid market run for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was partly blamed on Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who said some of the company’s product suppliers had recently received order cuts and that past “bottlenecks” in the iPhone manufacturing chain could affect numbers until March.

What is the Story Behind the iPhone Issues?

“Our checks indicate the builds at the assemblers Hon Hai [Precision Industries], Pegatron, Jabil (NYSE:JBL) have remained constant,” Misek wrote on Friday in a research note to clients. “But in the last 24-48 hours, component suppliers have seen large order cuts as the assembly bottleneck has not improved as much as hoped.”

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The analyst added that expectations that Apple would currently be further along the assembly ramp have not been met, and consequently, the company would see extra charges due to the excess component inventory. Misek cut his fourth-quarter gross margin estimate for Apple to 39 percent from 40 percent.

There were also reports of a fairly dull iPhone 5 launch in Beijing amid a snow storm that kept shoppers home. “The iPhone 5 China launch has been surprisingly muted but we are unsure how much weather (snow) or the required pre-ordering (to prevent riots) are factors,” Misek said. Apple enforced a strict pre-order policy after a near-riot in January during the launch of the iPhone 4S.

CHEAT SHEET Analysis: Earnings Increase Quarter-Over-Quarter is Under Question

One of the core components of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework focuses on the company’s financials through fiscal quarters. The analyst, who has a Buy rating on Apple stock and an $800 price target, stuck to his 53 million iPhone unit shipment estimate for this quarter, but cut the number for next quarter from 52 million to 48 million. He also reduced estimates for fiscal 2013 from $215.7 billion in revenue and $58.92 in earnings per share to $213 billion and $56.75, respectively.

Misek did say that demand did not appear to be a concern for the new iPhone. “We do not see a demand issue as there is still no iPhone 5 inventory at retail,” he said. “Also, we have not detected any finished goods inventory at suppliers.”

Apple ended the day at $508.97, down 3.91 percent, or $20.72. It dropped more than 4.5 percent during the week and is now down almost 28 percent from its September closing high of $702.10.

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