China's TCL doubles smartphone sales on overseas growth

BEIJING Wed Jan 8, 2014 12:39am EST

BEIJING Jan 8 (Reuters) - Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL is poised to become the world's 10th largest smartphone maker by sales after it reported on Wednesday it had sold more than twice as many handsets in 2013 than the previous year.

The company sold 17,555,412 smartphones in 2013, a 169 percent increase over 2012. Overall cellphone sales also increased 30 percent, TCL said in a statement.

TCL did not give a breakdown of its main markets. Analysts said TCL's mid-to-low priced range of Alcatel One Touch smartphones are mostly sold in Latin America and Europe. Its phones are also available in the United States.

"They have a very strong overseas distribution channel," said Leping Huang, an analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong. "Previously they don't have a good enough product, but finally this year's products match the channel."

TCL was the world's 11th largest smartphone maker by sales in the third quarter of 2013, according to research firm Gartner, and the eighth largest cellphone maker.

TCL is, however, lagging local rivals in China, the world's biggest smartphone market, where its products are not as well established.

Xiaomi, the budget smartphone maker, sold 18.7 million handsets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan last year, up 160 percent. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, however, remains the market leader in China.

"Right now, as a Chinese brand, TCL is really lagging behind in China," said Nicole Peng, China research director for Canalys.

China will likely ship in more than 450 million devices in 2014, at least a quarter more than last year, according to research firm IDC.

TCL produces its handsets though subsidiary TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd, which formed a joint venture with France's Alcatel in 2004, before it became Alcatel-Lucent. A year later, TCL bought out Alcatel's stake, and the venture became profitable in 2006.

In September 2013, TCL opened a new facility in Huizhou, China that can produce 65 million phones annually. It also said that it plans to almost double capacity to 120 million phones by June 2014.

Shares of TCL Communication were down 0.86 percent on Wednesday morning. (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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