Thursday, December 27, 2012
TechCrunch has reported earlier today that Apple Inc. (AAPL) will be utilizing its partnership with Foxconn to move its production of the Mac Mini to the United States. According to sources within Apple's supply chain, who spoke with Digitimes, Foxconn already has approximately 15 "operating bases" inside the U.S. Two of the states rumored to have these bases are California and Texas, where there are factories already in operation that perform the final assembly of the units that are partially assembled elsewhere. Foxconn has already denied rumors that indicated there were plans to expand to Detroit earlier this year, but did mention in the denial that there were several U.S. factories already in operation.
According to TechCrunch, part of this production move will include a push to outfit Foxconn's factories with more automated workers, which seems to confirm rumors we heard back in November. More automation would help Apple overcome the cost barriers and other limitations that were blamed for a lack of U.S. production in the past.
The Mac Mini poses a great unit for Apple to use to test the waters of U.S. production. One reason for this fact is that just like the Mac Pro, the Mini does not have a display monitor. By eliminating the need for a display to be produced, Apple has cut the costs of producing these machines immensely. The displays that are associated with products like the iPad or iPhone require an integration of many different materials, and careful adjustments may be needed in order to ensure that the pieces function properly. This can mean that additional adjustments and test may need to be made after production has already begun, and if the display manufacturers are not close to the final assembly plant, the resulting delay could be disastrous.
The Mac Mini is not one of Apple's best selling products, which could work in their favor this time. Because the estimated 1.4 million units for 2012 is a much smaller number than say the iPhone 5, which sold millions of units in its first 48 hours of availability, this is a good test project that Apple can use to determine whether other products should also be produced here.
While Digitimes has not always proven to be the most reliable source of information in the past, Apple Inc. (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is on the record as having said that the production of Mac product would indeed be coming to the U.S. in 2013. This could be the rumor that proves to be true.
Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares have continued their downhill slide this morning, as shares dropped from yesterday's closing price of $513. The shares are currently trading at $507, which marks a low point for the stock in the last 6 months period.
Why is Apple suffering so bad in the market? After all, they have one of the strongest product lines in the history of technology...right?
According to ValueWalk.com, Apple Inc. (AAPL) has a bright future, as they have just released a very successful iPhone 5 as well as the iPad 4 and iPad Mini. All of these products have sold very well, with the iPhone selling out within hours of its release. Additionally, we reported yesterday that Fox and 9to5Mac had both reported that Apple will be releasing the iPad 5 as soon as March of 2013, and that it will have many of the space saving features that the iPad Mini featured.
ValueWalk has also mentioned the fact that Apple is rumored to be building an Apple TV that will be able to link directly to Time Warner's cable system. Rumors have been circulating that Time Warner and Apple have been testing the unit for quite some time.
With all of this success surrounding their products, why is Apple's stock price languishing in the market? Well, while I am no Gene Munster, my opinion is that Apple Inc. (AAPL) is suffering because of the availability of cheaper products that mock the iPad and iPhone's features.
Samsung, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google all offer tablets that are priced lower than any of the iPad products offered by Apple. These tablets have sold extremely well in the holiday season, and this could be affecting Apple's stock price. With the economy struggling to hold steady and the cost of living rising, many people are looking towards affordability, rather than luxury. If this trend proves to be true, then some analysts fears could be realized.
If Apple loses market share to lesser competitors, then the stock price is going to continue to plummet, perhaps reaching the $425 target set by Jeff Gundlach when he told investors the company will suffer major stock price drops. Other analysts still have faith in Apple, and have stood by their price targets of more than $800 per share, and with some still holding above $900.
Will Apple pull out of this tailspin? While I may not have a crystal ball, I do believe the future of Apple should be clear to anyone who cares to look at the facts. The company has a strong product portfolio, along with some of the greatest engineers, designers, and executives in the world. Tim Cook has positioned his staff very carefully, in order to ensure the company has only the brightest minds working on its projects. With steady leadership, a strong product portfolio, and the continued dedication to quality that made Apple famous in the first place, the company will indeed pull out of this slump. I believe they will indeed reach the high price targets set by analysts in the near future. I suppose we will have to wait and see.
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