Sat, Jun 22, 2013 - Page 13 News List

HTC aims high to retake world market

GRUMBLINGS:Shareholders questioned the smartphone maker’s product launch and marketing strategies after seeing its net earnings plunge 73 percent last year

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter, in TAOYUAN

HTC Corp shareholders express their concern over the company’s performance at an annual general meeting in Taoyuan yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-hung, Taipei Times

Smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電), which saw its earnings fall to a seven-year low last year because of intense competition, yesterday vowed to regain its global standing with a long-term target market share of between 10 and 15 percent.

That is a high goal for the company, which secured just 4 percent of the global smartphone market last year, but HTC chief executive Peter Chou (周永明) told shareholders the company is confident of making a comeback in the global market.

“Building a globally renowned brand requires time, and we have seen examples like our biggest rivals in the market [Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc], which have more than 20 years of history — far longer than HTC’s,” Chou said.

Chou asked shareholders to be patient and to maintain their confidence in the company because HTC knows its problems and has been making progress on its bid to become a tier-one brand in the world market.

The Taoyuan-based smartphone maker, which once held more than 10 percent of the global smartphone market, has set its sights higher, defining success as achieving a market share of 10 to 15 percent amid the stiff challenges facing global players in the field, Chou said.

However, several shareholders panned the firm over its product launch and marketing strategies.

“Shareholders expect HTC to adopt more effective strategies in response to the stiff challenges ahead, after feeling frustrated by the company’s deteriorating earnings performance,” a shareholder said.

Several shareholders said Chou should resign if the company failed to achieve a monthly sales growth of 10 percent over the next three months.

Others questioned the company’s business performance, including its shrinking market share, the departure of several key executives, rising research and development expense and a component shortage.

HTC chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) said she continues to have faith in HTC, with the company last year managing to post a net profit — instead of a loss — despite the many challenges it faced.

The company’s net profit dropped 72.99 percent to NT$16.78 billion (US$557.85 million) last year from NT$61.97 billion in 2011.

To appease the about 100 shareholders who attended the meeting, HTC distributed new HTC One smartphones for free.

Wang did not make a comment when shareholders asked the company to buy treasury shares again to boost confidence.

HTC chief financial officer Chang Chia-lin (張嘉臨) said the company might consider a share buyback at the appropriate time. He did not elaborate.

HTC did not directly respond to rumors that it is planning to invite Iron Man movie star Robert Downey Jr to be its major product endorser in a two-year US$12 million contract, but said it is working to change its marketing approach.

“The ‘all-metal’ design [of the HTC One] has drawn an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the media and consumers alike. Anyone with a penchant for ‘metal’ should appreciate its appeal,” HTC said in an e-mailed statement.

Even though they were not happy about the company’s performance, shareholders approved the company’s proposal to distribute a cash dividend of NT$2 per share, based on last year’s earnings of NT$20.17 per share.

HTC shares closed down 0.6 percent at NT$248.50 yesterday.

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