Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Asustek secures smartphone launch

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS:The world’s fifth-largest PC brand’s latest series of low-cost ZenFone smartphones received a positive response at its Las Vegas launch

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) is expected to see its notebook computer and smartphone shipments surpass market expectations this year, on the back of the company’s strong product launches at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, Barclays Capital said.

In a research note issued on Wednesday, Barclays analysts led by Kirk Yang (楊應超) said Asustek would likely ship between 20 million and 22 million notebooks this year, up from 18.2 million units last year. That will include shipments of between 6 million and 7 million Transformer Book T-100 convertible notebook tablets and up to 4 million dual-operating-system Transformer Book Duet detachable touch screen notebooks, Barclays analysts said.

The world’s fifth-largest PC brand is also likely to see its smartphone business break even and reach its shipments target of 5 million units this year, after its latest series of low-cost ZenFone smartphones received positive responses at the annual CES event, they said.

The three ZenFone models, which Asustek unveiled on Monday, run on Intel Corp’s Atom processor. They have a screen size of between 4 and 6 inches, with the 4-inch model priced as low as US$99.

“It is obvious that Intel provided strong support by offering very low CPU prices,” Barclays analysts said in the note.

The company’s other CES launches include the Transformer Book Duet, the tablet-phone hybrid PadFone Mini and premium gaming monitor ROG Swift PG278Q.

“Asustek finally has the right strategy to establish a meaningful presence in the smartphone space and [we] expect it to continue its strong notebook market gains in 2014,” Barclays analysts said.

The strong demand for the company’s new Transformer detachable notebook computers in recent months has helped it report its highest sales in the past 15 quarters last quarter. During the October-to-December quarter, Asustek saw its consolidated sales rise about 10 percent quarter-on-quarter to NT$130.72 billion (US$4.32 billion), the highest level since the first quarter of 2010. For all of last year, the company’s sales totaled NT$463.3 billion, up 3.26 percent from NT$448.68 billion in 2012 and the highest since 2009, according to the company’s filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

In the first three quarters of last year, Asustek posted a net profit of NT$15.76 billion, or earnings per share (EPS) of NT$21. Barclays forecast the company’s EPS would hit NT$26.7 this year and raised its share price target to NT$320 from NT$265, representing an upside of 14.7 percent from Asustek’s closing share price of NT$279 yesterday.

In a separate filing, Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶), the world’s second-largest contract notebook maker, yesterday reported that sales for last month declined 1.97 percent to NT$64.67 billion from a 33-month high of NT$65.97 billion in November. Last month’s figure represents a 7.15 percent growth from the NT$60.36 billion recorded a year ago, closing out the year with total sales of NT$692.69 billion, up 1.28 percent year-on-year.

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