Leading economic indicators went up in September, surprisingly, after just two down months. Apple’s earnings come out tomorrow, after the market closed. And investors are going to be watching for any and all clues as to how spending for high-end personal computers and cell phones are faring.Here’s one, in advance:
Gold-plated computer and cell phone sales are doing just fine, says Alex Wiley, owner of Apple product customizer Computer Choppers, in West Linn, Oregon.
“This week we’ve had an onslaught,’’ he told Between The Lines today, of orders for gold-plated iPhones and gold- and jewel-encrusted MacBook Pros.
The three-man shop works on small batches. But sales of its $1,800 iPhones, covered in 24K gold, are taking off, Wiley says, after a slow summer.
The shop contacted about 50 people on a 100-person wait list it had built up during the slow times. A dozen would-be customers expressed interest in executing on an order and six did.
After Apple announced its new line of portable computers last week, the shop also got active. It’s received four orders for gaudy MacBook Pros, with the dress-up ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.
“That’s the busiest we’ve been with them,’’ Wiley said of the top-end of Apple’s laptop computers.
He’s not that surprised, even if normal folk are having trouble getting homes or cars financed.
“Money doesn’t ever disappear,’’ Wiley said. “Although there is a global credit crisis or recession or whatever you want to call it, there always tend to be rich people out there” willing to spend on showy gadgetry.
He expects orders to keep coming in between now and mid-November. That’s when he has to cut off orders, in order to deliver in time for Christmas on Dec. 25.
There’s another reason though that Computer Chopper customers gravitate toward gold computers.
It’s a “hedge against inflation,’’ he says. About one-and-a-half ounces of 18K gold go into a diamond-encrusted Apple logo on a fashion statement MacBook Pro. The value of that much gold, right now? $800.
Meanwhile, the bulls were pawing the ground at midday on Wall Street, as well.
Gold-plated computer sellers: