Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world’s No. 4 PC brand, yesterday said it expected notebook shipments to weaken in the first quarter due to seasonal factors.
Shipments of conventional notebooks are forecast to drop to 3.8 million units this quarter from 4.5 million in the fourth quarter last year, while shipments of netbooks are projected to slide to 1.1 million from 1.3 million, Asustek said in a statement.
Shipments of Eee Pad tablet computers are expected to be flat quarter-on-quarter at 0.6 million units, CEO Jerry Shen (沈振來) told an investor conference.
Given weaker shipments, the company expects revenue to drop by about 10 to 15 percent sequentially in the first quarter, Shen said.
However, he expects the momentum to pick up in the second quarter, bolstered by the launch of a new processor from Intel Corp, which is expected to fuel notebook replacement demand.
For last year, Asustek said it shipped 14.7 million conventional notebooks, up 25.85 percent from 2010.
Netbook shipments, meanwhile, plunged 18.33 percent to 6 million, affected by competition from Apple Inc’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Asustek shipped a total of 1.8 million tablet computers last year, as its flagship model — Transformer PCs — were well received.
For this year, the PC vendor targets shipments of 18 million conventional notebooks, 4 million netbooks and 3 million tablets, Shen said.
In terms of earnings, Asustek said net income hit NT$4.88 billion (US$165 million) in the fourth quarter, up 21 percent year-on-year and 4 percent quarter-on-quarter.
Revenue was NT$102.65 billion, a rise of 23 percent from a year ago and up 1 percent from a quarter earlier.
Income was NT$16.58 billion for the whole of last year, inching up 1 percent from 2010. Revenue advanced 9 percent to NT$350.26 billion last year.
The company expanded its reach in the Asia-Pacific last year, with the region accounting for 44 percent of its total sales, up from 40 percent in 2010.
Europe contributed 40 percent, down from 43 percent in 2010, according to the statement.
Barclays analyst Kirk Yang (楊應超) maintained his “overweight” rating on Asustek, with a price target of NT$290, but said he preferred Acer Inc (宏碁) and China’s Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) because Asustek could see greater margin pressure in the near term.
This is because of its vulnerability to a shortage of hard-disk drives given its higher percentage of desktop and motherboard sales, Yang said. Its focus on tablets is also a factor, as it might have difficulty taking market share away from Apple, Yang said in a report dated Monday.
Shares of Asustek inched down 0.77 percent to close at NT$258 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange before the investor conference.