Apple May Be Investing In Samsung’s Competition

In an analysis posted on Wednesday, Horace Dediu of Asymco noted that Apple spent one-third more than expected in capital expenditures in fiscal 2012, and some of the acquisitions made by Apple were made through what he called “uncharacteristic or unorthodox means.”

Apple had originally forecast in October of 2011 that it would spend about $8 billion on capital expenditures. When the final numbers came in at $10.3 billion, there was a noticeable 2 billion dollar increase, and those dollars were labeled as “product tooling, manufacturing process equipment and infrastructure.”

Dediu claims that Apple may have pumped 2 billion into Sharp, which provides display panels for devices like the iPhone and iPad. Sharp has spent the past year trying to recover from financial woes, and earlier this year was in line to take a $1 billion investment from Foxconn — a payout intended to build a new LCD plant to boost production for Apple products before the deal fell through because of Sharp’s poor finances.

“My guess is that these attempts to shore up Sharp are directed by Apple to ensure both continuity of supply and a balanced supplier base (offsetting Samsung, another supplier),” Dediu wrote. “If Sharp were to enter some form of bankruptcy, the key plant(s) used in producing screens for Apple might be ‘up for grabs’ by creditors and they might be taken off-line, jeopardizing Apple’s production capacity, irrespective of contractual obligations.”

Apple’s filing, made public a week ago, also revealed that it increased spending on research and development by almost $1 billion. The increase to $3.4 billion in its 2012 fiscal year represented growth of 39 percent from the year prior.

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