HTC misses consensus targets on revenue, profit, and annual profit

Times are tough for HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).  Once the darling of the industry, hurtling out of obscurity to become one of the Android industry's "Big Three", the gadget maker has seen its growth stall as Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) began to accelerate in sales.  To make matters worse, the U.S. International Trade Commission just smacked an import ban on some of its older handsets, courtesy of Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  While this may merely mean modifying its Android distribution, it's one more headache HTC doesn't need.  

And that's not to mention the spying allegations against the company following a careless security breach due to sloppy coding within its distribution of "Carrier IQ" user device monitoring code.

Today, the financial figures for HTC's holiday quarter landed [PDF] and they were pretty dismal.

Revenue came in at $101.419B TWD ($3.36B USD) (post-tax), well below the consensus estimate of $113.795B TWD, a miss of 10.9 percent from the consensus analyst target [source].  The revenue almost matched the most pessimistic estimate of $100.532B TWD.

Profits also languished with HTC reporting earnings per share of $13.13 TWD for a total profit of $11.017B TWD ($364.5M USD).  That's 17.2 percent lower than the consensus EPS of $15.86 TWD.

In other words analysts knew HTC was starting to hit the brakes, but it didn't expect growth to drop quite this badly.  

HTC Rezound
Despite power handsets like the HTC Rezound, the Taiwanese smartphone maker saw growth slow faster than analysts predicted. [Image Source: Amazon/HTC]

About the only good news is that HTC still grew for the year, posting a 36.3 percent gain in annual revenue with an unaudited 2011 haul of $62.049B TWD ($2.05B USD), versus $39.534B TWD ($1.31B USD) for the edited fiscal 2010.

Much like the performance of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) back in the 2009-2010 period -- HTC remained profitable, but at the same time saw sales stagnation and drooping profits.  While HTC has yet to show the capacity to sustain the continued high profile embarrassments that have plagued RIM in recent months, investors should file away what happened to RIM for future comparison, to help better determine whether this is just a hiccup for HTC or the start of a true decline like RIM's drop.

An important precaution to note is HTC's stance on publishing unaudited figures versus Generally Accepted Accounting Practices.  The above figures are all unaudited, unless otherwise noted.  Many international firms now publish their results in accordance to the Generally Acceptable Accounting Practice rules from the U.S., but HTC continues to publish unaudited results.  All results are unaudited unless otherwise noted.  For the reviewed and/or audited results HTC did not indicate whether it was following the GAAP or its own accounting standard.  What was clear was that in most cases it audited its earning totals upwards slightly for 2010; so don't expect any big drops.

Looking ahead HTC will likely face a tough 2012.  It has thus far seen no success in the tablet realm.  And some of its best smartphones, like the HTC Rezound -- a phone which packs the industry's best display, a full 3 subpixel 720x1280 unit -- haven't received quite the media blitz that Samsung recent fodder have.  HTC promises more new flagship products next year, but its difficulty appears to be more on the PR/promotional side if anything, at least in the U.S.

HTC was formerly estimated to be the top U.S. smartphone seller, but it's likely now fallen back behind Apple after this poor performance.

Sources: HTC [PDF], Financial Times [analyst estimates]

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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