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Talk of the Day -- PC prices set to rise on hard drive shortage

2011/10/31 23:05:57

Personal computer (PC) makers have become more cautious over their outlook for the first quarter of next year because the massive flooding in Thailand has disrupted the global hard disk drive supply chain, local newspapers reported Monday.

Market sources said prices for 500G hard drives have soared about 25 percent, from US$30-US$40 to US$50. The surge has increased pressure on brand-name PC vendors to raise retail prices, the sources said.

On Monday, a number of listed PC vendors and contract makers were to report their third quarter sales and offer guidance for the fourth quarter.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the PC industry issues:

Commercial Times:

The effect of the disruption in the hard drive supply chain due to the floods could be felt starting in December. If supplies cannot return to normal by the first quarter of next year, the overall PC supply chain may take a hit. Those worries left PC industry executives less willing to give optimistic forecasts for the near future.

Notebook contract makers said hard drives are usually provided by their clients. Therefore, PC and notebook vendors may face greater pressure to raise prices than contract manufacturers.

Chen Yu, president of Shuttle Computer Co., a leading PC manufacturer specializing in high-performance desktop PCs in compact designs, said PC makers are now competing against each other to buy hard drives, pushing up prices by at least 20 percent.

As some of Shuttle customers are contractually required to absorb cost increases, they may ask for deliveries to be postponed, which would affect the company's Q4 sales, Chen said.

Taiwan's two major PC brands, Acer and Asustek, said they have stockpiled enough hard drives for use until the end of this year, but they acknowledged that continued increases in hard drive costs could eventually force them to raise NB prices.

Market analysts said that if PC vendors fail to get access to enough hard drives and raise product prices to reflect their increased costs, their sales and profit margins could be eroded. (Oct. 31, 2011).

United Evening News:

AsusTek's Q3 consolidated sales should be better than expected, exceeding NT$100 billion (US$3.33 billion), according to preliminary estimates.

A recent research report said Asustek lagged only behind Lenovo in its annualized growth rate for the third quarter among PC vendors and saw its global market share expand to 6.5 percent from 5.3 percent a quarter earlier. The increased market share has further cemented Asustek's status as the world's No. 5 PC vendor.

While Asustek forecast flat growth for the fourth quarter, institutional investors said the company could see modest growth thanks to the recent launch of its ultrathin Ultrabook and the planned launch of a new generation of Transformer tablet computers in November.

Major notebook contract makers Quanta and Compal were also scheduled to unveil their Q3 sales Monday afternoon. Market sources said Quanta should be able to maintain growth momentum in the coming year because it has received orders to produce Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets and has completed testing on Apple's ultrathin 15" notebook.

Quanta Chairman Barry Lam is expected to brief investors on the company's innovation projects and cloud computing technology development plan in his Monday report.

Meanwhile, Acer Chairman J. T. Wang predicted Monday that the Apple operating system would see slower growth in the coming two years while Windows systems produced by many Taiwanese suppliers would grow steadily due to the launch of new products and new applications. (Oct. 31, 2011).

(By Sofia Wu)