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Apple Inc (AAPL) iPhone Supply Catching up in U.S.: Survey

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been suffering from supply-line constraints over the first few weeks of sales of the iPhone 5, and those troubles have been well-documented. While Apple (AAPL) posted record sales in the first weekend that the new smartphone launched, the company was having trouble keeping up the supply, as it very quickly ran out of stock and left customers waiting three to four weeks for their devices to arrive in some cases.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

But alas, as many analysts have believed, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been making progress on the production side, if an inventory survey by Piper Jaffray is any indication. The firm has been conducting daily inventory checks at 100 Apple retail stores in the U.S. over the last three weeks or so, and reported Friday that Apple Inc (AAPL) has improved its inventory to the point that within two to three weeks the company should have consistent availability of each of the iPhone models designed for AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S).

In its most recent survey, Piper Jaffray found that the Apple retail stores surveyed had 84 percent availability for the Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) model of the iPhone, with 54 percent for the AT&T Inc. (T) model and 24 percent for the Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) model, which were significantly improved over a week earlier for the latter two carriers. Sprint’s inventory has been pretty consistent for a couple of weeks, the survey said.

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote Friday morning. This survey seemed to be consistent with a report from a Stearne Agee analyst who noted earlier this week that the production bottleneck at Foxconn has shifted from the components to the assembly of the devices, which means that production has picked up and that the company is addressing its earlier quality-control issues.

One analyst has Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) poised to sell about 46 million iPhone 5 devices during the December quarter, after selling 27 million in a very protracted selling period during the September quarter. What are your thoughts about Apple Inc (AAPL) and its iPhone sales during the holiday season? Are you, or would you, consider a position in the stock at this point? What do you think investors like billionaire David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital is considering when it comes to Apple?

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