Last Monday John Vinh, lead semiconductor analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, warned his clients that Apple (AAPL) and its component suppliers were in trouble.
“iPhone 6s Sell-Through Continues to Disappoint,” he began. “We Still See Near-Term Risk for Apple Supply Chain.”
“Our latest monthly carrier surveys, in conjunction with supply-chain feedback, indicate disappointing iPhone sell-through. This is resulting in rising inventories and increased risk to component supplier outlooks for Q4/Q1. In particular, we see risk to forward estimates for ARMH, AVGO, QRVO and SWKS.
That’s ARM Holdings (ARMH), AVGO Technologies (AVGO), Qorvo (QRVO) and Skyworks Solutions (SWKS).
“Until we get a reset in expectations,” he wrote, “We expect Apple supply-chain names to remain range-bound.”
You can guess what happened next. Before the week was out, two of the semiconductor stocks he named (Qorvo and Skyworks) had reported stronger-than-expected earnings, and all four stocks had popped—Qorvo up 22% in what Needham analyst N. Quinn Bolton called a “meteoric surge.”
Qorvo’s guidance, Bolton wrote, “confirms solid content gains on Apple’s new iPhone 6S/S Plus platforms.”
How could Vinh get it so wrong? How could he see disappointing iPhone sales where the evidence suggested the opposite?
He’s not answering my requests for comment, but here’s my theory: If you begin your analysis on the assumption—as so many do—that Apple is doomed, then you are likely to see a build-up of iPhone 6S components as a sign that the device isn’t selling.
It wouldn’t occur to you that Apple might just be doing a better job this year gearing up for the big holiday surge.
UPDATE: I realize the four stocks Vinh named gave up some of their gains in Monday’s broad market pull back. That doesn’t make him right.
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