Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Notebook demand may cause component shortages

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Notebook shipments are expected to grow in the current quarter, bringing a risk of a shortage of components in the near future, Citigroup Research said in a report yesterday.

"We remain alert to the potential of component shortages," Kirk Yang (楊應超), who tracks the PC sector for Citigroup, said in the report.

The components at risk include batteries, liquid-crystal-display panels, printed circuit boards and especially power management chips, whose availability is already tight before the peak shipment months of October and November, he said.

Computer makers, including Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co, have already been troubled by minor shortages.

"There is a lack of panels, chipsets and memory," said Benson Lin (林宗樑), general manager of Asustek's Asia-Pacific division.

But the issue should not be big enough to impact the company's portable computer sales in its home market, as it still expects its local sales to grow 30 percent when compared to last year, he said.

Dennis Chen (陳敬宏), general manager of HP Taiwan Ltd, said it is confident it will not be hit by shortages as it has contracts with suppliers to ensure ample numbers of components.

Despite the potential problem, Taiwanese contract makers are expected to usher in a busy third quarter, Citigroup said.

Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦), Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電腦) and Wistron Corp (緯創) -- the nation's top-tier portable computer contract makers -- which have underperformed the market, will see strong third quarter momentum driving an imminent rebound, Yang said.

For the second half of the year, the notebook market is better prepared for the new Vista operating system. New models embedded with Intel's Santa Rosa platform will be shipped from the middle of this quarter, and Microsoft's plan to release a Service Pack 1 for Vista later this year should help improve sales growth, he said.

"Our channel checks suggest demand momentum will significantly ramp up from August. We have revised upwards our third quarter sequential growth forecast for notebook shipments to 20 percent from 18 percent, higher than the normal 15.5 percent seasonal growth," Yang said.

Taiwanese contract makers are not expected to enjoy any potential upside in gross margins, however, because of intensifying competition and order reshuffles, even though consumer notebooks usually carry higher retail prices and better gross margins than commercial ones, he said.

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