(Recasts with details, quotes, analyst comments)
By Sheena Lee
TAIPEI, June 2 Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc
(2357.TW), the maker of low-cost Eee PCs, said on Monday it
expects sales of the handbag-sized laptops to double to around 10
million units next year on strong demand from Europe,
Asia-Pacific, and India.
The company, which had previously estimated that it would
sell 5 million Eee PCs this year, forecasts low-cost PC sales are
set to hit 20-30 million units globally in 2009, Asustek's Chief
Executive Jerry Shen told reporters.
Asustek is showing its latest Eee PCs at Computex, the
world's second-largest PC fair which runs between June 3-7 in
Asustek said it hopes sales of Eee PCs will help lift its
market share in North America -- currently only 1 percent -- as
the subprime crisis and rocketing fuel costs take their toll on
The Eee PC, far the most popular model of smaller, low-cost
PCs known as netbooks, is seeing the strongest demand from Europe
and Asia-Pacific, and expects growth to pick up in emerging
markets like India, Asustek said.
"Asustek is among our top picks in hardware stocks due to
improving execution post restructuring, strong brand positioning
and substantial notebook share gains, Eee PC sales and greater
exposure to emerging markets," said Ellen Tseng, analyst at
Asustek shares closed up 1.5 percent on Monday, outpacing the
main TAIEX's .TWII 1.2 percent gain.
Some analysts are concerned that Eee PCs will soon face
fierce competition from PC leaders, such as Dell DELL.O,
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N), and Acer (2353.TW), which are going
after the low-cost market.
"It could get harder for them in terms of competition, and as
margins are slim for Eee PCs, it could be a challenging race
ahead," said Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Calvin Huang.
Asustek competes with larger rival Acer in its own-brand
business and electronics maker Hon Hai Precision Industry Co
(2317.TW) in contract manufacturing.
Asustek has said it hoped to become the world's fifth-largest
laptop PC seller by 2010. It also makes laptops for Apple
(AAPL.O) and Dell, and had spun-off its manufacturing business
into a separate company earlier this year.
(Reporting by Sheena Lee; Editing by Louise Heavens)