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Monday, July 04, 2011, 11:00 pm PT (02:00 am ET)

Apple reportedly placed orders for 15M next-gen iPhones from Pegatron

A new report claims Apple manufacturer Pegatron has received orders to produce 15 million units of the "iPhone 5" as the device's expected fall launch nears.

As first noticed by Bloomberg's Yu-Huay Sun, unidentified component suppliers indicated to Taiwan industry publication DigiTimes that Pegatron had been contracted for an estimated 15 million handsets. The publication also claims Apple's next-generation smartphone is coming "soon" and will begin shipping in September.

It should be noted, however, that DigiTimes has an uneven track record with Apple predictions, though its accuracy improves slightly when reporting on manufacturing contracts.

According to the report, previous orders for the CDMA iPhone 4 bound for Verizon Wireless helped Pegatron to expand its Shanghai facilities and hire new workers, though first quarter sales of the device were reportedly lower than Pegatron had expected, causing the company's "utilization rate to drop to 50 percent." Sources suggested earlier this year that the manufacturer had received orders of "at least 10 million units" for Apple's next iPhone.

The alleged increase in numbers from 10 million to 15 million units may reflect Apple's bullish outlook on the iPhone after record sales last quarter. iPhone sales grew an impressive 113 percent year over year in the first calendar quarter of 2011 to reach 18.65 million units. Analysts expect those number to undergo a slight dip sequentially throughout the summer before reaching new heights with the projected launch of the next-generation iPhone.

Pegatron stock jumped 3.1 percent, the largest gain in three weeks, in response to the rumor regarding Apple's order.

Though Foxconn has traditionally been Apple's largest contract manufacturer, Pegatron, which was originally a subsidiary of Asus before being spun off in 2010, has reportedly won several major contracts from the iPhone maker in recent months. The report claims the manufacturer is aggressively striving for iPad or MacBook orders from Apple, but has yet to succeed because "the products' existing makers are defending their orders." The Taipei-based manufacturer reported revenue of $18.4 billion in 2010, compared to Foxconn's $59.3 billion in revenue last year.