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Apple's lack of larger iPhone to benefit HTC: Citigroup

Apple's lack of larger iPhone to benefit HTC: Citigroup

Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Apple Inc. is not expected to launch a larger version of its iPhone this year, leaving open a short window of opportunity for Taiwan's HTC Corp. to stabilize its high-end market share, according to U.S. bank Citigroup Inc. In a research note dated Jan. 21, the bank said Apple is unlikely to grow in the high-end smartphone segment this year due to the weakness of its iPhone 5, whose 4-inch display may fail to satisfy most premium consumers' preference for screens larger than 4.7 inches. "Due to Apple's potential lack of large-screen smartphones for 2013, we are seeing a rising opportunity for HTC to stabilize or even improve its high-end market share in 2013," Kevin Chang, a Taipei-based analyst for Citigroup, wrote in the note. Citigroup raised HTC's target price to NT$250 (US$8.63) from NT$113 but kept its "sell" rating on the stock, citing the lackluster demand for the company's 5-inch Droid DNA model in the United States. The bank also revised upward its forecasts for HTC's earnings per share by 90 percent to NT$18.92 for 2013 and by 41 percent to NT$15.13 for 2014. HTC shares closed up 1.05 percent at NT$289.50 Tuesday on Taiwan's stock market. Chang said he expects Apple to launch a 4-inch "iPhone 5S" and a 4-inch low-end iPhone in July this year, but he predicted that the iPhone 5S will likely look similar to the iPhone 5, leading to weak demand for the updated model. Apple will have difficulty unveiling a 4.8-inch "iPhone 6" in 2013, Chang said, with the launch more likely to be scheduled for the first quarter of 2014. He believed that South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. will snatch 70 to 80 percent of the smartphone market growth opportunity left by Apple's void, while the second-tier brands could still grow 25 percent to 40 percent on an aggregated basis. "Given our view that HTC's products are still very competitive among the second-tier brands, we expect HTC to at least maintain its high-end market share for 2013," Chang said. In the long term, however, Chang believed Apple's comeback with a large-screen iPhone in 2014 will again "push second-tier brands to the edge," which means the window for second-tier brands could be very short-lived. It was reported a day earlier that HTC is planning to sell the Butterfly phone, which has become a hit in Japan and Taiwan, in India at the end of January and in Russia in the near future. The reports said the planned launch of the Butterfly in India and Russia signaled HTC's growing ambition to introduce its products in more developing markets after several of its models, including the Butterfly phone, went on sale in Myanmar earlier this month. (By Jeffrey Wu)


Updated : 2021-06-13 07:48 GMT+08:00