MediaTek reports drop in November sales to 5-month low

Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) MediaTek Inc., one of Taiwan's leading integrated circuit designers, said Friday its consolidated sales for November fell to a five-month low due to inventory adjustments in China's smartphone market. Last month, MediaTek posted about NT$8.65 billion (US$297.25 million) in consolidated sales, down 17.57 percent from NT$10.50 billion in October. The November figure, however, was up 13.43 percent from a year earlier. In the first 11 months of this year, the IC designer recorded NT$91.68 billion in consolidated sales, up 15.52 percent year-on-year. China has become the largest buyer of MediaTek's smartphone chips, driven by popularity of that particular handheld device. Based on solid demand in China, the company has upgraded its 2012 smartphone chip shipment target to 110 million units from 95 million. In late October, MediaTek said it expected its consolidated sales for the fourth quarter to range between NT$28.9 billion and NT$30.9 billion, compared with NT$29.47 billion in the third quarter. In the October-November period, the company's consolidated sales were NT$19.15 billion. That means it would have to generate at least NT$9.75 billion in sales for December to achieve its fourth quarter target. As its November sales decline was within market expectations, MediaTek said it has left its fourth quarter guidance unchanged. Daiwa Securities said it anticipates that MediaTek's smartphone chip shipments for December will increase 20 percent from a month earlier, which will help the IC designer reach the lower end of its fourth quarter sales target. Meanwhile, the brokerage has lowered its forecast for MediaTek's earnings per share for 2013 from NT$19.14 to NT$17.73 after the IC designer decided to postpone completion of its merger with a smaller local rival MStar Semiconductor Inc. MediaTek said Thursday the merger is expected to be completed by May 1, 2013 instead of Jan. 1 as initially projected, since it is facing opposition from China and South Korea on grounds of violation of their anti-trust regulations. MediaTek said it will keep the lines of communicating open with the authorities in Beijing and Seoul in an effort to obtain approval for the merger. Daiwa Securities said the postponement of the merger completion date is likely to drag down MediaTek's share price by 3-4 percent in the short term, but the brokerage maintained its "buy" recommendation on the stock. MediaTek shares closed unchanged at NT$323.50 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Friday. The benchmark weighted index ended up 0.24 percent at 7,642.26 points. (By Jackson Chang and Frances Huang)