Scarce Supply Means Google's Nexus Is A Winner

| About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

There are a couple ways investors could interpret Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) executive Dan Cobley's apology regarding Nexus 4's out-of-stock status.

While it may be tempting to argue supply shortages mean bad news for the company's current quarter, it's more likely better-than-hoped demand means above plan results.

If Google plays its cards right, it may find itself selling a whole lot of Nexus devices.

The Nexus 4 has been a perennial "out of stock" since its November launch. This prompted U.K and Ireland Managing Director Mr. Cobley to apologize and lay blame firmly at the feet of manufacturer LG.

"Dear all, I know that what you are going through is unacceptable and we are all working through the nights and weekends to resolve this issue," wrote Mr. Cobley. "Supplies from the manufacturer are scarce and erratic, and our communication has been flawed," he added.

Erratic supplies are a bit of a tough swallow for a firm as big and successful as Google. It suggests either Google was inept in vetting LG. Or, more likely demand far exceeded their internal goals.

The Nexus 4 is built on LG's Optimus G guts, which is why the Nexus sports a switched off Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) LTE chip. Some, such as TechCrunch, have wondered if Nexus production has been pushed aside to ramp Optimus G production instead.

Regardless, the non-existent supply for the Nexus 4 risks frustrating those who have ordered the device and are stuck watching the mailbox. It also boosts the difficult to quantify brag factor for those lucky enough to get one early or score one from eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY).

Last week, LG had its own spin on the subject.

The company cited "huge demand" as the problem when pressed by CNET UK. The Nexus 4 sold out in the first half hour. LG's Andy Coughlin reportedly said "retailers have been hit with huge demand" and went on to claim the company is "working closely with Google" to address the issue.

This suggests both Google and LG are to blame for the shortage. Google likely drastically under estimated sales. And, when Google went back for more it appears LG wasn't able to ramp production quick enough.

If this is the case, the situation is likely bullish for the company - similar to Qualcomm's lacking 28 nanometer supply last spring.

While the two companies wrestle to get more devices out the door, Google investors can take solace in ramping sales of the Nexus 7 tablet.

Sales of the device will likely top 1 million in December, according to DigiTimes. This would mark a big jump from November, when Asus indicated sales of the Nexus 7 were north of 700,000 units. Granted, this still pales in comparison to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad units. But, it's a strong showing for the search company turned device maker - suggesting there's plenty more appetite for future Google products.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL, QCOM. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.