HTC Fourth-Quarter Profit Beats Estimates on Android Mobile Phone Sales

HTC Corp., the world’s largest maker of handsets using Google Inc. Android and Microsoft Corp. Windows operating systems, more than doubled profit after new models spurred sales to a record.

Fourth-quarter net income climbed to NT$14.6 billion ($500 million) from NT$5.5 billion a year earlier, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today. The average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for profit of NT$13.4 billion.

Android’s growing market share and a high-definition version of HTC’s Desire phone boosted sales while maintaining prices in the past three months. The debut last quarter of Windows Phone 7 models and the release of fourth-generation handsets may help sustain sales growth, according to Steven Tseng, an analyst at RBS Asia Ltd.

“Flagship models like the Desire HD are driving sales,” said Taipei-based Tseng, who recommends investors buy the HTC stock. “The average selling price is strong because demand is there for high-end models.”

Fourth-Quarter Sales

HTC’s fourth-quarter consolidated sales more than doubled to NT$104 billion, from NT$41 billion a year earlier, it said. The average of 14 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for consolidated revenue of NT$101 billion. HTC forecast a record NT$100 billion in consolidated sales for the period.

The stock added 1.2 percent to NT$907 at the 1:30 p.m. close of trade in Taipei before the earnings announcement. The company’s market value has more than doubled in the past 12 months, exceeding $25 billion, making it Taiwan’s fourth-largest listed company.

HTC said Oct. 29 it expected to ship 9 million handsets in the three months ending December, surpassing its previous 6.8 million-unit record in the prior quarter. HTC didn’t report shipments today and will hold a conference call by the end of January to provide further details and outlook.

Android garnered 40.8 percent of the market for new smartphones bought in the U.S. during the six months to November, Nielsen Co. said in a Jan. 3 statement. That’s ahead of Apple Inc.’s iOS and Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry, according to the statement.

HTC released both high definition and keyboard-equipped versions of its Android-powered Desire handset during the quarter, while also unveiling five handsets using Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 system.

The HTC Inspire 4G, announced yesterday, will be released on AT&T Inc.’s fourth-generation high-speed network by the end of this quarter.

HTC’s stock is rated “buy” from 28 of 35 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Six recommend “hold” and one suggests investors sell.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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