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Wednesday, May 07, 2014, 07:53 am PT (10:53 am ET)

Supply chain sales data suggests Apple had strong month of April

Apple suppliers had a particularly strong month of April, suggesting that shipments to the iPhone maker may have been stronger than their traditional seasonal average as the company ramps up for new product introductions, new data shows.

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Analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald keeps tabs on Apple's supply chain with his monthly "Apple Barometer." With preliminary April sales for 97% of tracked Apple suppliers now reported, White found that sales were up 7 percent month over month, he said in a note to investors Wednesday obtained by AppleInsider.

Over the last 9 years, Apple suppliers have seen their sales fall 1 percent month over month in April. White said his data shows this year may have been close to a record for suppliers' month-to-month growth in April.

White's Apple Barometer correctly signaled in early April that Apple's March quarter results could be stronger than Wall Street expected. Apple did in fact come in ahead of market forecasts for the quarter, helping to propel a recent surge in its share price.

As for the full June quarter, it's taken on a much less important role for Apple in recent years. White's Apple Barometer shows that over the last 9 years, the June quarter has represented a 10 percent quarter-over-quarter increase, but singling out the last two years shows that sales dropped 9 percent sequentially.

That's because beginning with the iPhone 4S in 2011, Apple shifted from a June-July launch timeframe for its latest handset to a fall debut. Compounding the issue is the fact that Apple no longer launches new iPads in the March-April period, opting instead to wait until the fall.

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Worker prepares iPhone for final assembly. | Source: Apple Supplier Responsibility Report


As such, while the June quarter used to be a major part of Apple's fiscal year, the summer periods are now something of a dry spell for the company.

White, like many others, expects things will ramp up in the second half of 2014, when he expects a new "iPhone 6" and revamped iPads, fitting with Apple's most recent seasonal schedule. He also believes that the company will launch a so-called "iWatch" later this year.

"With Apple's March quarter results out of the way a couple of weeks ago, and WWDC on the horizon in June, we believe more investors will be getting more actively involved with the name ahead of this product cycle, during what we have dubbed as the 'Year of Innovation,'" White said.

The Cantor Fitzgerald analyst remains one of the most bullish Apple-watchers, maintaining a price target of $777 for AAPL stock.