Thu, Feb 16, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Acer bounces back into the black with ‘turnaround quarter’

TAKING A BIG HIT:The PC firm’s losses last year totaled NT$6.62 billion, or a net loss of NT$2.52 per share, mainly because of a write-off to clear inventory

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Acer Inc (宏碁), the world’s No. 4 PC brand, got back in the black in the fourth quarter last year, after two consecutive quarters of losses amid organizational restructuring.

Net profit in the fourth quarter was NT$75 million (US$2.7 million), compared with NT$3.9 billion in the same period the previous year, while consolidated revenue was NT$127.7 billion, up 8.3 percent quarter-on-quarter, but a dip of 24 percent year-on-year.

“The fourth quarter was a turnaround quarter ... Acer is back,” chairman J.T. Wang (王振堂) said during a teleconference call yesterday with analysts and reporters.

He attributed the turnaround to better inventory control and strong sales of Ultrabooks.

In October last year, Wang said that Acer aimed to break even in the fourth quarter.

The company plunged into a loss in the second and third quarters last year after firing former chief executive Gianfranco Lanci in late March as it undertook measures to cut inventory in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — a region run by Lanci.

For the whole of last year, Acer’s losses stood at NT$6.62 billion, or a net loss of NT$2.52 per share, mainly because of a write-off to clear inventory in the second quarter. Consolidated revenues totaled NT$475.49 billion, down 24.4 percent from the previous year.

Wang said the company is expected to maintain its fourth-quarter momentum into this year, though he did not offer financial guidance.

Gross margin is expected to crawl back to the 10 percent level by the fourth quarter, from 9.2 percent in the fourth quarter last year, president Jim Wong (翁建仁) said.

The PC maker, which says it is making a comeback by taking the “leadership in the Ultrabook sector,” plans to roll out three more Ultrabook models by the second quarter to complement its existing product, the Aspire S3.

The new launches are set to include the Aspire S5 — which the firm claims is the industry’s thinnest Ultrabook, as well as 14-inch and 15-inch models in its Timeline Ultra series.

The company’s unit sales of Ultrabooks in the second quarter will double from the first quarter, Acer said, but it did not offer comparative figures. The firm said it would win over customers because of its comprehensive range of Ultrabooks and the rollout of its AcerCloud service in the second quarter.

Last month at the Consumer Electronics Show, Acer announced that it would be including its AcerCloud service on its consumer PCs starting in the second quarter.

Looking to compete with Apple Inc’s iCloud, AcerCloud will allow users to access music, photos and documents stored on their PC from Android-powered smartphones and tablets, even if the PC is asleep or hibernating.

Acer shares closed up 2.9 percent at NT$44.3 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange before the earnings were announced.

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