Acer Profit Climbs After Overtaking Hewlett-Packard in Laptop Market Share

Acer Inc., the world’s second- largest computer supplier, posted its strongest profit growth in nine quarters after it overtook Hewlett-Packard Co. to take top spot in the laptop market ahead of its own forecast.

First-quarter net income rose 63 percent to NT$3.29 billion ($105 million), the fastest since December 2007, the Taipei- based company said today. The average of 13 analyst estimates was for net income of NT$3.18 billion.

Shipment growth at Acer outpaced that of closest rivals Hewlett-Packard and Dell Inc. as the computer supplier gained share in the U.S. and Europe. President Gianfranco Lanci led the company’s laptop business to a more than 50 percent unit increase during the period and said desktops returned to growth.

“Acer keeps being faster with new products, which is why they can outgrow competitors,” Calvin Huang, who rates the stock “buy” at Daiwa Securities Group Inc. in Taipei, said before the announcement. “Notebooks remain the strongest area of growth, and that’s Acer’s key product.”

Consolidated revenue climbed 36 percent to NT$162.1 billion in the quarter, beating the NT$157 billion average of 14 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Acer fell 1.4 percent to NT$87.80 before the earnings announcement. The stock has lost 8.7 percent this year, compared with a 1.6 percent decline in the benchmark Taiex index.

‘Very Happy’

The computer vendor became the world’s largest notebook supplier with 19.4 percent share in the first quarter, Acer said in a statement, citing researcher Gartner Inc. Laptop shipments climbed 55 percent from a year earlier, it said, citing Gartner.

“Me and Gianfranco didn’t expect it so soon, but we’re very happy,” Chairman J.T. Wang said at an investors’ conference in Taipei. Wang said Jan. 22 he aimed to take the lead in laptops, which accounted for 69 percent of its first- quarter revenue, by the end of this year.

Operating income, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, climbed 71 percent to NT$4.39 billion, compared with the NT$4.24 billion average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenue and operating profit this quarter will be similar to the prior period, Wang said. Shipments may grow about 10 percent in the second half from the first half, Lanci said.

Acer’s global shipments of all PC products climbed 43 percent from a year earlier to 10.8 million units during the first quarter, putting the company behind only Hewlett-Packard, according to an April 14 press release from Framingham, Massachusetts-based researcher IDC.

New Smartphones

Acer will announce “an entire family of Internet devices” by the end of May, Lanci said, without providing details. The company will also release up to four new smartphones that will use its own new interface and based on Google Inc.’s Android or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating systems, he said.

Acer said in March it will use processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in new servers in a bid to offer cheaper models of the high-end computers used to power corporate Web sites, e-mail and databases. Servers will account for as much as 4 percent of revenue this year and offer profit margins double those of other products, Lanci said on Feb. 5.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Culpan in Taipei at tculpan1@bloomberg.net.

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