Japanese disaster could create iPad, iPhone shortages [U]

Toshiba, Mitsubishi, others hard-hit

[Updated with new information] While of less concern overall than the terrible loss of human life and ongoing disaster, the earthquake and tsunami which hit northern Japan on March 11th could create significant component delays for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, claims Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Asian contacts reportedly say that the production status of Apple's Japanese suppliers is changing by the hour, and that none of them can definitively detail the damage they've suffered or when production will start up again. Two companies in particular are thought to be especially important: Toshiba and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical.

Mitsubishi is believed to be Apple's main supplier of BT resin, used in printed circuit boards. The company has temporarily shut down to gauge earthquake damage. Stopped under similar circumstances is Toshiba, which supplies about 40 percent of global flash memory, including a chunk reserved for Apple's iOS handhelds.

IHS iSuppli adds that the iPad 2 includes DRAM from Elpida Memory, an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, and the system battery (which is assembled in China, but supplied by Apple Japan), all of which are made in the country. In addition, the improved glass of the iPad 2 (compared to the original iPad) is thought to be coming from Asahi Glass Company, also located in Japan. While some of these components are relatively easy to source elsewhere, the special glass, compass and battery would be very difficult to replace.

Even though some of the companies involved (such as AKM) report that their own facilities suffered little or no damage, logistical issues affecting the entire country are likely to cause supply problems for weeks to come.

Component delays could continue until the end of June, says Munster. At the same time, Apple may be able to avert their full impact as a result of having long-term supply agreements with several vendors. "This strategy has proven to be an effective way for Apple to leverage its balance sheet and its position as one of the largest buyers of many of the components it uses; moreover, this strategy may prove particularly helpful if supply is limited and pricing increases," the analyst writes. "Finally, we believe Apple buys futures on important components, which will help offset near-term pricing swings. Our conclusion is that Apple is well positioned to suffer proportionally less than its competitors."

The largest financial impact on Apple may therefore be reduced profit margins. Component prices are on the rise as a result of Japan, and may trim Apple's margins in the second half of 2011. The one significant hit to revenue could come from a lack of sales in Japan itself, which Munster estimates might knock $202 million (1 percent) off of March quarter estimates. Theoretically, if there were no sales at all through the first half of the next quarter, the impact might be about $563 million, or 2.7 percent.


    Comment buried. Show
  1. imactheknife 03/17, 10:47am

    Freakin story is worried about a shortage of ipads and iphones yet people lost everything they had, there is massive death, and a looming nuclear crisis, but we may not have ipads....who gives a S*** ya lame moron of a reporter

  1. ggirton 03/17, 11:20am

    will continue under any circumstances. there have been plenty of stories about the supply chain interruption in both directions. get used to it.

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  1. wrenchy 03/17, 11:33am

    I was just thinking the same thing.

    Get a clue macnn. Fuc5ing amateurs.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. imactheknife 03/17, 01:00pm

    shows how pathetic you really are....GOOFS

  1. ASIMO 03/17, 05:04pm

    Jeezus, men. It's a pretty innocuous article. No harm, no foul. I read no worrying in the story. Just information. Your heart is in a good place, but seriously, no need for misdirected and undeserving projection of disdain.

    Kumbaya! Kumbaya, gentlemen!

  1. Tom53092 03/17, 08:41pm

    People might have to make f*** noises the old fashioned way.

  1. prl99 03/17, 09:02pm

    I'm glad nobody knows exactly where any of the Apple components are actually built or we might actually be able to make an educated statement about how any loss of production actually would affect Apple. I get tired of people guessing and assuming where things are built or what is happening. Of course, just mentioning anything negative and all the analysts start their engines and flip the big sell switch.

    I'd like to know about any other company that has locked-in sales of computer equipment for the next several month--other than Apple. Give me a break and just show some fiscal management--hold onto a good thing.

  1. gardenburger 03/17, 10:50pm

    This is such shoddy reporting using sensational headlines.

    The apple competitors are jumping all over this and there is no basis or facts yet for this to be a story.

    This is getting tiring and so is your reporting.

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