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Without Apple, 'supply chain' shrinking, says analyst

Apple is not only a important company for consumers but for manufacturers too.

Apple's third-generation iPad (top) and iPad 2 (bottom) are critical to the supply chain.
Apple's third-generation iPad (top) and iPad 2 (bottom) are critical to the supply chain.
Brooke Crothers

Apple is so important to the group of companies that build tech-related electronics products that without Apple there would be negative growth, according to Citibank.

The tech electronics supply chain is barely showing year-to-year growth and would be in the red if it wasn't for Apple, according to a research note today from Citibank analyst Jim Suva.

The supply chain is an amorphous collection of manufacturers, many located in Asia.

In a subheading titled "Ex-Apple, the Tech Supply Chain is Still Not Growing Y/Y," Citibank said Apple is the linchpin for growth.

"Projected annual sales growth in the supply chain has slowed significantly and is expected to be +1.5% y/y in June, well below the 5-year and 10-year averages of +4.2% y/y and +6.8% y/y, respectively," Citi's Suva wrote.

He continued. "Year over year, Apple on a dollars basis is expected to [be] outgrowing overall tech supply chain in the June quarter or, in other words, without Apple the supply chain is actually shrinking."

Citibank breaks down the supply chain into "upstream suppliers" like semiconductor chip suppliers, "hubs," e.g., distributors, and "downstream vendors" such as wireless equipment and PC hardware suppliers.

Products like the third-generation iPad keep the supply chain humming. When reporting second quarter financial results in April, Apple said it sold 11.8 million iPads, a 151 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.