Signs that Apple's sales will continue on a feverish pace continue to accumulate, an industry analyst said today.
In a research note to clients, Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities highlighted a record December for his "Apple Barometer," an index of Asian suppliers that provide components for Apple's products.
Sales of the companies in the index jumped 9.4% in December over the month prior, said White, significantly above the average decline of 15% month-over-month in years past.
"The Apple Barometer delivered the biggest [month-over-month] growth for December that we have on record, and the first December where sales increased month-over-month," said White in the note.
White also highlighted impressive sales growth of Multi-Fineline Electronics, a maker of flexible circuit boards like those used in smartphones and tablets, and an Apple component supplier. Multi-Fineline's sales jumped 25% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, said White, citing preliminary numbers from the California-based company.
While the Apple Barometer doesn't sync quarter-by-quarter with Apple's revenues -- there's a built-in lag from the time suppliers record sales to when Apple produces and sells its products -- White and other analysts expect a blow-out quarter from Apple when it reports its earnings later this month.
White now projects that Apple will reports sales of 5.2 million Macs, 12.2 million iPads and 29.9 million iPhones for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2011.
Other analysts are even more bullish.
Brian Marshall of International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI) is betting that Apple will record sales of 5.3 million Macs, 14 million iPads and a whopping 32 million iPhones for the final quarter of 2011.
If Marshall's projections are on target, Apple will post record sales of all three products, shattering previous bests of the iPad and iPhone by several million units.
Apple will announce its fourth-quarter earnings and product line sales figures on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.