Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - Page 13 News List

HTC must improve, despite Apple slowdown: bank

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corp (宏達電) still needs to prove itself in terms of products, execution and marketing, despite rival Apple Inc forecasting a lower-than-expected result for the current quarter, a Swiss bank said yesterday.

In its latest research note, Credit Suisse Group AG said that investors are cautious about whether Apple’s weaker sales forecast will create an opportunity for HTC to come back.

“We find it difficult to believe that Apple will completely miss the product cycle of smartphones with larger-sized screens — to HTC’s benefit — unless there is a supply bottleneck,” Credit Suisse analyst Pauline Chen (陳柏齡) said.

In the long term, Chen remained concerned about the Taoyuan-based company’s increasing difficulties in product differentiation and intensifying competition from other brands.

HTC’s global delivery and marketing abilities remain shaky following several quarters of disappointing performances, she wrote in the note.

On Wednesday last week, Apple said it expected revenue for the quarter to March would range between US$41 billion and US$43 billion, which is below a previous market estimate of US$45.5 billion and has sparked concern about weakening demand for iPhones.

In the quarter ending last month, the US technology giant posted US$54.5 billion in revenue, slightly lower than a previous market forecast of US$54.9 billion. Its net profit was US$13.1 billion, or US$13.81 in earnings per share, which beat market expectations of US$13.53.

In a Jan. 21 report, US bank Citigroup Inc said that Apple is not expected to launch a larger version of its iPhone this year, leaving open a short window of opportunity which HTC could seize to stabilize its share of the high-end smartphone market.

The bank added that Apple’s share of the high-end smartphone sector is unlikely to grow this year due to weak sales of its iPhone 5, whose 4-inch display appears to be failing to satisfy the prevailing consumer preference for screens larger than 4.7 inches.

Citigroup said that South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co could see its share in the smartphone market grow by between 70 percent and 80 percent in the wake of Apple’s slowdown, while second-tier brands like HTC could grow by 25 percent to 40 percent on aggregate.

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