September 12, 2008 / 7:40 AM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Taiwan's HTC sees 2008 sales at high end of target

(Adds analyst estimates, background)

TAIPEI, Sept 12 (Reuters) - High Tech Computer (HTC), the world’s top smartphone maker, said on Friday it sees a good opportunity to reach the upper end of its 2008 sales target this year, because of a strong reception for its high-end models.

In giving his latest sales assessment, Chief Financial Officer Cheng Hui-ming said the company, whose products compete with Apple’s (AAPL.O) hugely popular iPhone, had previously targeted 2008 revenue growth of 20-30 percent.

“The iPhone has not caused too much impact on HTC’s sales momentum,” Cheng told an investor conference.

His latest forecast was in line with analyst expectations that HTC would post 28.5 percent sales growth this year to T$152.4 billion ($4.8 billion), according to Reuters Estimates.

HTC (2498.TW), whose phones run on Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Windows operating system, said in July it expected third-quarter sales to rise 30 percent from a year ago, with gross profit margin of around 34-35 percent for the quarter, on growing popularity of its smartphones.

The global cellphone industry has shown signs of slowing in recent months, as demand tapers off and falling prices eat into companies’ bottom lines.

Industry leader Nokia Oyj NOK1V.HE warned last week it expected to lose market share in the third quarter as it fights to maintain profit margins. [ID:nL6290990]

HTC, which has avoided some of the downturn by focusing on high-end phones, has also gone on an aggressive campaign to sell its models around the world. In its latest advance, the company is expanding its Japan sales via tie ups with second-ranked carrier KDDI Corp (9433.T) and No.4 eAccess Ltd 9427.T [ID:nT300910].

HTC is also working with global Internet search leader Google (GOOG.O) to develop mobile phones using Google’s new Android operating system. Those phones are set for release in the fourth quarter.

In the past two years, HTC has transformed itself from a pure contract manufacturer to a branded mobile phone company, and has seen strong sales in Asia-Pacific and in Europe, analysts said.

On Friday, shares of HTC ended down 3.15 percent, versus a 0.94 percent gain of the broader market .TWII.

Despite the drop, the company’s shares are still up 13.5 percent this year, in share contrast to the broader market’s 26 percent tumble amid the current global downturn. (US$1=T$32.06) (Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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