Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Asustek bullish on Vista

VIEWPOINT The first quarter of the year is traditionally a slow one for all computer makers, but Asustek is hopeful that Microsoft's latest OS will help spur sales

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world's largest motherboard maker, forecasts a healthy outlook for the current quarter, fueled by the release of Microsoft Corp's new operating system, company executives said yesterday.

"We expect business performance will not be bad this quarter," said Sunny Han (韓德行), Asustek's global brand marketing director.

He made the remarks on the sidelines of a product launch yesterday, where Asustek unveiled a new 14-inch laptop computer incorporating a 3.5-generation network module for high-speed Internet surfing.

Han said that sales would be down by approximately 15 percent quarter-on-quarter for the first three months -- a traditionally slow period after the Christmas spending spree in the previous quarter.

Computer makers expect that the launch of the Vista operating system on Jan. 30 will tempt consumers into buying new PCs.

Commercial users, however, will adopt the operating system later, when the system is proven to be more stable and reliable, he said.

Asustek, which also makes Sony Corp's PlayStation 3 game consoles and Apple Inc's iPod Shuffle, is also counting on the"digital home" concept to boost sales.

Jonathan Tsang (曾鏘聲), president of sales and marketing for Asustek, said that PCs would continue to play a role as the home-entertainment gateway, linking game consoles, flat-panel TVs and other products to offer consumers enhanced multimedia enjoyment.

In terms of the local notebook market, Asustek said it expects to maintain its leadership by selling 350,000 units -- up 25 percent compared with last year.

Asustek posted strong consolidated sales of NT$542 billion (US$16.5 billion) last year, up 52 percent from a year ago. Its revenues for last month increased to NT$61.42 billion from NT$26.92 billion a year earlier.

Shipments of Asustek laptops -- both own brand and contract made -- grew 50 percent last year to 5.6 million units. The company said it could ship 9 million units this year.

Motherboard shipments grew 7 percent to 55.5 million units, falling short of its 60 million target last year, Asustek said.

Macquarie Research Equities said in a report yesterday it believes Asustek will continue to outperform due to its strong growth momentum and attractive valuation.

"We now believe Asustek's sales may only decline slightly this quarter, after its strong performance in the last quarter last year," Macquarie said.

Investors should overlook the short-term motherboard issue, where the shipments weakened, as the company's other businesses were doing well, the report said.

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