HTC Posts Record Sales, Profit on Demand for Smartphones

HTC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou
Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou said, HTC suffered from a shortage of materials last year because the company wasnt ready for such high growth. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

HTC Corp., the Taiwanese company which overtook Nokia Oyj this week as the world’s third-largest phonemaker by market value, posted record quarterly profit and sales on demand for smartphones.

Net income almost tripled to NT$14.8 billion ($513 million) in the first quarter from NT$5 billion a year earlier, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today. That was higher than the NT$12.8 billion average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales more than doubled as HTC benefited from rising demand for smartphones that use Google Inc.’s Android system and models that offer higher connection speeds. Profit may gain further this quarter as the company begins selling new devices including its first tablet computer, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“We expect HTC’s new model launches in the second quarter to drive stronger shipment growth than peers in the next two quarters,” Jeff Pu, an analyst at Fubon Financial Holding Co. in Taipei who recommends investors “buy” the stock, wrote in a report yesterday.

HTC said Jan. 21 it expected to ship 8.5 million units for the quarter, more than double that of a year earlier and its second-highest following the 9.1 million sold in the fourth quarter. It didn’t provide first-quarter shipment numbers today. Net income may climb in the second quarter to NT$16.4 billion, according to the median of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg in the past 28 days.

ThunderBolt Vs Iphone

Revenue rose to NT$104.2 billion, beating HTC’s own forecast for NT$94 billion, and surpassing the NT$95 billion average of 20 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That figure may climb to NT$112 billion this quarter, according to analyst estimates from the past 28 days.

The company’s ThunderBolt handset, using fourth-generation high speed networks, equaled sales of Apple Inc.’s iPhone in 61 percent of the 150 Verizon Wireless stores surveyed by New York-based BTIG LLC, analyst Walter Piecyk wrote in a March 31 report. ThunderBolt outsold iPhone in 28 percent of stores, according to the survey.

“Several respondents indicated that the store lines were longer for the first day of the ThunderBolt launch than they were for the iPhone,” Piecyk wrote. “Verizon sales people indicated that sales of the iPhone were still strong but they simply noted that the ThunderBolt was as strong if not stronger.”

The Taiwanese company’s first tablet, HTC Flyer, was unveiled on Feb. 15. Sales will begin in the second quarter, rivaling Apple’s iPad and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy. Flyer has a smaller screen and higher-resolution camera than Apple’s iPad2.

Overtaking Nokia

HTC’s stock, which has tripled in the past year, fell 3.3 percent to NT$1,160 at the 1:30 p.m. close of Taipei trading before the earnings were announced. Its market value surpassed that of Nokia on April 6, putting it behind only Apple and Samsung, before dropping back below the Finnish rival in trading today.

Global shipments of smartphones climbed 72 percent last year, more than double the 32 percent growth in the wider mobile devices market, researcher Gartner Inc. said in a Feb. 9 statement. Smartphones, the only type of phone HTC makes, accounted for 19 percent of market shipments last year, it said.

Google’s Android operating system, which HTC uses for its handsets and tablets, will run on 49 percent of smartphones sold globally next year, from 39 percent this year and 23 percent last year, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner said in a statement yesterday. The software platform will stay ahead of Research in Motion Inc.’s BlackBerry, and Apple’s iOS, it said.

None of the 36 analyst recommendations compiled by Bloomberg advise investors to sell HTC while 29 say “buy” the stock.

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