FORTUNE -- There was a frisson of excitement among Apple (AAPL) analysts Wednesday when they discovered in the company's annual 10-K report that capital expenditures for fiscal 2014 are forecast to be $11 billion, $4 billion more than than the $7 billion Apple spent in fiscal 2013.
Apple's CapEx -- its spending on product tooling, manufacturing process equipment, corporate facilities, infrastructure and retail stores -- has been closely watched ever since Asymco's Horace Dediu showed that a bump in Apple's CapEx in one quarter corresponded quite nicely to a bump in iOS device sales the next quarter. (See, for example, Apple's next quantum leap.)
That's why in her report to clients Thursday, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty described the "robust" CapEx guidance for 2014 as an "investment in growth." (See her Exhibit 1, attached.) The CapEx increase is even more robust, she points out, when you subtract the portion that Apple has earmarked for building new Apple stores.
"Non-cash capital expenditure forecast for FY14 is $11.0B, up 57% from $7B capital expenditure in FY13. $10.5B of the total capital expenditure guidance is for non-retail store facilities, up 62% from $6.5B [in FY13]."
If a 62% increase in CapEx in one year sounds too good to be true -- especially for investors who expect it to lead to a comparable increase in iOS device sales -- that's because it is too good to be true.
Working from the increase in Apple's CapEx forecasts, rather than its spending, Asymco's Dediu took a crack at estimating the number of iOS devices Apple might sell in 2014.
"If the relationship holds into next year," he wrote in Wednesday's post, "then the iOS unit shipments [iPhones, iPads and iPod touches] should be between 250 million and 285 million."
UPDATE: I asked Dediu whether the delayed spaceship could account for the entire $3 billion CapEx shortfall in fiscal 2013. His reply:
"I don't think so. The cost of the building will be around $1 billion/yr though I don't think that will be completely capitalized. Bear in mind that the entire building cost is less than the spending for the tooling ramp up of one iPhone model. Even without a campus Apple spends the equivalent of one Nimitz-class aircraft carrier every six months (which the Navy takes four years to build)." (emphasis mine)
The Mac and iPod slices shrank between '08 and '09. iTunes grew a bit. iPhone grew a lot.
Steve Jobs likes to describe Apple's (AAPL) business model as a stool built on three-legs: the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone.
But a quick glance at the 2009 Form 10-K, which Apple filed on Tuesday, shows that it is now more like a four-leg chair, with a couple of wedge-shaped pillows on the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 28, 2009 8:02 AM ET
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