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Apple's Japan Supply Chain Solid: Analyst

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Despite worries about component supplies in the wake of the Japanese earthquake, Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) supply chain remains robust, according to analyst firm Canaccord Genuity.

"While we believe supply could be tight for the industry due to Japan, we believe Apple is leveraging its dominant market position and will fare much better than competitors," wrote Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley in a note Monday. "We believe suppliers will likely provide Apple with preferential supply, as Apple is often the largest customer for many suppliers."
Apple's supply chain has survived the Japanese earthquake, according to analyst firm Canaccord Genuity.

Walkley, who raised his Apple price target from $460 to $480, pointed to strong sales of the iPhone 4 at AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), along with impressive initial sales of the new iPad 2. "With ongoing strong sales of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, suppliers are more likely to supply Apple, as Apple is more likely than competitors to maintain strong orders," he added. "We believe Apple will maintain dominant value share of both the tablet and smartphone markets," he said, and reiterated his buy rating for the company.

Apple does not discuss its component suppliers, who, likewise, refrain from talking about their relationships with the consumer tech giant. Teardowns of the iPad and the iPhone have revealed components from Qualcomm (QCOM), Broadcom (BRCM) and Toshiba.

Qualcomm, which supplies the Verizon iPhone with a 3G wireless chip, told TheStreet that it does not foresee any significant impact in its ability to supply its customers following the recent catastrophe in Japan. Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment on the earthquake's impact on its supply chain.

The coming months are set to be busy ones for Apple. Investors are already eyeing the next big event on the Apple calendar: its Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, which occurs between June 6 and June 10. Apple used last year's WWDC to launch the iPhone 4, but this year's WWDC press release seemed focused on software and OS announcements.

"While we have no evidence the iPhone 5 could launch a couple months later than Apple's normal iPhone refresh in June/July, we believe a launch in September could happen for several reasons," said Canaccord's Walkley. "With the [iPhone's] potential to include long-term evolution (LTE) and near field communication (NFC) technologies, we believe this would give Apple more time to include these new technologies in an iPhone 5."

NFC is a short-range wireless technology that will be used to allow consumers to pay for purchases with a wave of their smartphone, while LTE plays a key role in next-generation networks such as 4G.

Walkley also believes that an iPhone 5 launch closer to the holiday selling season would give Apple's iPad 2 a few more months in the spotlight. "We believe any potential delay in the iPhone 5 launch would be intentional and strategic rather than due to poor execution," he said.

Apple shares slipped $2.98 to $341.59 Monday, outpacing the broader tech market, which dipped 0.19%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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