Apple executives are notoriously tight-lipped, especially about new products. Still, they do talk to analysts. Case in point is the recent discussion Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty had with Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer.

Based on her meeting, Huberty says that she remains convinced that Apple will announce an “iPhone mini” later this year. The reason: Innovation remains a “top priority” at Apple.

In a note to investors, the analyst says that Apple’s least expensive handset, the iPhone 4, is doing surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that it is generating profit margins of 40 percent. Because of this, she sees the arrival of a less expensive iPhone as nearly certain.

She states:

The company’s approach to product decisions and innovation has not changed in the past several years despite the CEO transition. Making great products remains Apple’s core strategy and the company is as confident as ever about the future pipeline of new products and services.

Huberty also stated that she believes Apple will return $28 billion to shareholders during this fiscal year. This would amount to a 6 percent dividend.

The analyst has been quite chatty about Apple in recent weeks. Just this week, she explained why she felt an iPhone mini was inevitable. Earlier in the month, she suggests that an iWatch and iTV could generate billions for Apple.

Via: AppleInsider