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A Clue to Apple’s Sales? Check the Suppliers

Factories are humming, suggesting bigger numbers to come

Wall Street says Apple will post $29 billion in sales this quarter. Revenue estimates for the companies that build Apple’s parts suggest that forecast is about $2 billion short.

For decades companies have refrained from giving the most optimistic guidance so they can exceed Wall Street forecasts, and the Cupertino (Calif.)-based maker of the iPhone and iPad has few if any peers for managing expectations. Apple, which has surpassed ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company, worth $352.1 billion as of Sept. 6, topped analysts’ sales projections in 19 of the last 20 quarters, by 6.5 percent on average.