Apple's capital expenditures are significantly higher than most of its competitors, so where is that cash going? Analysts say it appears Apple is spending on the manufacturing equipment its suppliers use and possibly even building some facilities of its own.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is one stock everyone is watching as analysts from different investment firms like RBC Capital release their own personal expectations of the stock. Shares of Apple have even caused problems for mutual funds. But one thing that hasn’t gotten much attention from many investors and analysts is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s capital expenditure.
Avinash Celestine of The Times of India did an examination of the company’s capital expenditure, which was $9.4 billion for the company’s fiscal year 2012, that ended in September. That number doesn’t even include the tech giant’s spending on Apple Stores, which pushed it past $10 billion.
According to Celestine, Apple Inc. (NADSAQ:AAPL)’s capital expenditures for the year only rival those of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). Competitors like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) all carry annual capital expenditures between $2 and $4 billion. So what is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) using all of that cash for?
First, investors should note that the tech company spent only about $865 million on its retail stores. Meanwhile Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lists $9.5 billion in “other capital expenditures.” That number includes corporate facilities, infrastructure and manufacturing equipment.
Celestine cites industry analyst Horace Dediu, who said earlier this year that the company is spending on server centers needed to house and handle the massive amounts of data that Apple uploads to iOS users. However the tech company’s spending on manufacturing equipment is especially notable, as investors and analysts have been eyeing its supply chain in recent weeks.
Apple has traditionally contracted out its manufacturing, the company now offers so many different devices that its manufacturers may not be able to handle the rapid growth and increased demand for new equipment to support these new devices. Dediu said it appears as though Apple is investing in the equipment its suppliers use to make its devices so that it can create the capacity needed to bring its many products to numerous global markets in very little time. Also there’s speculation that Apple could be setting up some manufacturing facilities of its own, possibly to reduce its dependence on competitor Samsung, which makes many of Apple’s components.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn’t the only tech company investing in manufacturing, although other companies’ investments are not quite as obvious yet. For example Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently purchased Motorola Mobility, a smartphone manufacturer which will reportedly handle Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s so-called “X phone“. As Celestine points out, we could be seeing the beginning of a return to tech companies investing more in their entire supply chain, just as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) and other tech giants did decades ago.