* Q4 net profit hits record T$42.6 bln vs T$37.0 billion a year earlier
* Record Apple iPhone, iPad sales drive Hon Hai’s profit
* Company looking to diversify revenue streams as phone sales peak
By Michael Gold
TAIPEI, March 28 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic devices, beat expectations for the third consecutive quarter on Friday boosted by record sales at its biggest client Apple.
Under its trading name of Foxconn, Hon Hai earns much of its revenue assembling Apple’s blockbuster iPads and iPhones. As smartphone sales peak and prices begin to fall, the company has started to shift towards a more consumer-facing business model.
Hon Hai plans to build applications for Internet browser Firefox from Mozilla and has won a license to operate Taiwan’s next-generation mobile spectrum. For now, making companies’ branded goods accounts for about 80 percent of revenue, analysts estimate. It is Apple’s biggest supplier.
Revenue rose 16.9 percent in the final quarter of 2013, taking net profit up 15.3 percent to a record T$42.6 billion ($1.40 billion), Hon Hai said in a statement on Friday. That compared with the T$40.1 billion mean estimate of 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
“The iPhone’s continued popularity is still Hon Hai’s biggest driver,” said Yuanta Securities analyst Vincent Chen.
Shares of Hon Hai have gained nearly 15 percent over the past year, compared with an 11.5 percent rise in the overall market. ($1 = 30.5315 Taiwan Dollars) (Reporting by Michael Gold; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Elaine Hardcastle)