Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 12 News List

HTC shares lose ground, but analysts stay upbeat

HANDSETS Although sales at High Tech Computer Corp rocketed 45 percent last month compared with last September, market watchers were not satisfied

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Shares of High Tech Computer Corp (HTC, 宏達電) dipped almost to the 7 percent daily limit yesterday after the company released disappointing sales figures for last month, but analysts retained buy listings in expectation of robust demand for HTC's mobile phones.

HTC, the world's biggest manufacturer of handsets that use the Microsoft Corp operating system, said sales rocketed 45 percent compared with September last year to NT$8.89 billion (US$269 million), bringing revenues for the July-September period to NT$26.36 billion.

Although HTC said the third-quarter results were "in line with" expectations, the company's stock price plunged 6.77 percent to NT$813 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, as investors and industry analysts had anticipated a better performance.

Shares of the nation's top handset maker, Compal Communications Inc (華寶通訊), slid 6 percent to NT$124.

HTC's sales for last month were "7 percent lower than our expectation of NT$9.5 billion," Vincent Chen (陳豊丰), who tracks the handset industry for CLSA Ltd in Taipei, said in a report released yesterday.

The mobile phone maker blamed disruption in the supply of small thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT-LCD) panels for the weaker-than-expected growth in sales, Chen said.

HTC said short supply in component sales eroded sales by 5 to 10 percent last month, but it hoped to resolve the problem this month.

With the situation expected to extend into this month, Chen yesterday cut his forecast for HTC's revenue in the final quarter of the year by 7 percent to between NT$35 billion and NT$36 billion, from an earlier estimate of NT$39 billion.

Nonethless, Chen retained his "buy" rating on HTC, saying demand was still strong, and that HTC was adding new customers.

"HTC has added two new customers in the US. Shipments could start as early as the fourth quarter of 2006," Chen said, adding that panel supplies were no longer an issue.

HTC now supplies cellular phones to some of the world's biggest telecom operators, including Vodafone and Softbank Corp.

Lu Chia-lin (呂家霖), a handset industry analyst at Yuanta Core Pacific Securities (元大京華證券), said he did not plan to adjust his "buy" rating on HTC in the short term.

Lu said the decline in HTC's share price surprised him.

"I did not expect investors to react strongly to lower-than-expected September sales. I think the weakening stock price just offers a good chance for people to buy HTC shares," he said.

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