HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s No. 4 smartphone brand, yesterday said sales and shipments of smartphones in the first quarter could grow about 1.5-fold from a year ago amid solid demand.
Revenue is forecast to expand 147 percent to NT$94 billion (US$3.2 billion), while shipments are expected to rise 157 percent to 8.5 million units, the company said.
“We continue to see strong demand for existing products and expect recently launched 4G products to help drive shipment growth this year,” CEO Peter Chou (周永明) told an investor teleconference.
The smartphone market grew exponentially last year and the sector is expected to expand by another double-digit percentage this year, he added.
To cope with the rising demand, HTC is poised to double production capacity of its Shanghai facilities to 2 million handsets per month. There is also a new factory currently being built at its Taoyuan base, he said.
“We may outsource production to leverage other contract makers’ capacity. This will give us flexibility,” Chou said, without naming potential partners.
Despite a handful of analysts pressing HTC for its tablet PC plans during the teleconference, it refused to divulge details, including launch date, specifications or model numbers.
“We don’t want to just rush into the tablet PC bandwagon. We have to make sure our products are ready when we make the announcement,” Chou said.
HTC’s revenue nearly doubled to a record NT$278.8 billion last year, from NT$144.5 billion in 2009.
Net profit expanded 75 percent to NT$39.5 billion.
Smartphone shipments more than doubled to 24.6 million units from 11.7 million in 2009, while the average selling price inched down to US$350 from US$352, according to its statement.
“2010 was a breakthrough year for us. We turned from a small firm into one with a sizable scale and became a truly international company,” Chou said.
“HTC’s growth was faster than I expected,” he said.
HTC’s brand awareness hit 50 percent on a global basis last year, quadrupling from late 2009, when the company launched a global brand awareness campaign.
The spike in demand last year caught HTC unaware and the company suffered from raw material shortages, Chou said.
This year, however, with the company optimizing its operational process, including ensuring stable component supply, shipments should be smoother, Chou said.
HTC closed down 0.7 percent at NT$888 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday before the earnings announcement. Its stock has risen 141 percent for the past 12 months, outpacing the bourse’s 10.2 percent advance.
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