Sales data from some of Apple’s biggest suppliers is showing stronger than expected returns for the just-concluded month of March, potentially hinting that Apple itself could also surprise to the upside when it reports its earnings later this month. Analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald tracks tech component suppliers as part of his “Apple Barometer” measurement. In a recent note to investors, White said that preliminary sales for Apple suppliers were up 34% month over month in March, a number which is higher than the average seasonal increase of 24%.

Apple suppliers still saw soft sales in the months of January and February As such, White’s estimates call for Apple sales to fall 24% quarter over quarter to $43.8 billion in revenue, compared to an 8-year average decline of 19%. White is slightly more bullish than his other Wall Street analysts, who generally expect that Apple will report revenue of $43.6 billion for the March 2014 quarter. Last year during the same period, Apple brought in $43.6 billion in revenue, meaning sales were projected to be about flat.

The Cupertino California company didn’t introduce any major new products during the March quarter, which is why many investors aren’t expecting to see growth from the company from the start of calendar 2014. However, the three-month period does represent the first full quarter of sales for the new Mac Pro, and it also includes the debut of the iPhone on China Mobile, which is the world’s largest provider.

Previously, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray offered a prediction that Apple will announce “modest” increases to its share buyback program and dividend payments in its next earnings calls. Apple is set to reveal the results of its March quarter after markets close on April 23. As for White, the analyst is currently on a tour of Asia where he has met with sources in the supply chain and at regional carriers. Based on the discussions, he believes a new “iPhone 6” with a larger display could be a “very special” success in China, where customers are apparently eager for a big-screen handset from Apple. White reiterated that stance in the recent note as well by saying the following:

The common response we have been getting on our trip is that many consumers purchased a Samsung smartphone due to the larger screen but that they may switch to Apple's iPhone if a larger screen (e.g., 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch) is available with the iPhone 6.
Cantor Fitzgerald continues to maintain its “buy” rating for AAPL stock with a price target of $777.

Source: Cantor Fitzgerald via AppleInsider