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iPhone X Production Is Ramping Incredibly Fast

By Evan Niu, CFA - Nov 27, 2017 at 12:56PM

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The case builds for Apple's ability to hit its ambitious guidance.

Apple (AAPL 2.14%) continues to pleasantly surprise investors and consumers with the availability of iPhone X. Its latest flagship handset was previously expected to suffer from severe supply constraints. The company's guidance for the December quarter made it abundantly clear that Apple is extremely confident and bullish on the iPhone X ramp, and we're now getting more data points that suggest production is ramping incredibly fast.

Shipping estimates for new orders placed on Apple's online store have now improved to just one to two weeks.

iPhone X lineup

Image source: Apple.

Foxconn's production rate has more than tripled in two months

Last week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note (as reported by MacRumors) that said Apple's supply chain has resolved all pertinent bottlenecks that were holding up production. Foxconn's daily production rate has more than tripled over the past couple of months, from a previous rate of 50,000-150,000 units per day to 450,000-550,000 units per day. Yield rates on the all-important dot projector -- a crucial part of Apple's TrueDepth camera system -- are improving, while constraints around LTE antenna modules are also easing.

Kuo notes that the shorter shipping times are a function of improved production and not the result of weak demand (not that there should have been much fear of iPhone X suffering from weak demand).

What a difference a few days makes

This morning, longtime Apple analyst turned venture capitalist Gene Munster also concluded that iPhone X availability within the U.S. has significantly improved recently. Munster tracks and aggregates availability for 139 of Apple's 271 stores within the U.S., which represents 2,224 data points across all configurations. Just in the past week alone, Munster has measured a significant uptick in availability, which is now estimated at 26% for the three days after Thanksgiving. That's a massive improvement compared to the mere 2% availability for the three days prior to Thanksgiving.

Outside of the U.S., Munster notes that shipping times in several other countries have also improved to one to three weeks. iPhone X is still constrained and hard to come by, but the situation is quickly improving. Munster doesn't expect Apple to reach supply-demand balance until January.

'Tis the season for iPhone X

As we head into the final month of 2017, the clock is ticking for Apple to hit its ambitious forecast of $84 billion to $87 billion in sales during the December quarter, which would represent a fresh all-time record for the company. That's despite an artificially tough comparison that Apple will face: The December quarter this year will include the normal 13 weeks, while the December quarter last year was 14 weeks.

With production continuing to improve, it looks like happy holidays are in store for Apple.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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