Smartphone maker HTC quarterly profit almost doubles

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s HTC Corp, the world’s No. 4 smartphone brand, reported a near doubling in third-quarter profit on Wednesday, thanks to new models and its push into phones for Google’s Android operating system.

HTC’s unaudited net profit was T$11.1 billion ($360 million) for July-September, the company said in a statement that gave no further details. That was up from T$5.695 billion in the same period a year ago and well above a consensus forecast of T$8.7 billion by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

HTC has recently unveiled details of its push into the increasingly important mobile services sector and has introduced two new handsets using Google’s Android software.

“Investors are comfortable with HTC’s status in the Android market,” said Steven Tseng, an analyst at RBS in Taipei. “HTC will keep a stable position, even if it is not a leader in the sector.”

He said demand for smartphones looks good in the fourth quarter. He rates HTC a buy with a share price target of T$880.

The results came after the Taipei stock market closed on Wednesday. The stock rose 3 percent to T$719 against a 1 percent rise in the main TAIEX index. HTC’s shares have more than doubled from a year-low of T$264.69 in February.

HTC faces tough competition from much larger rival Samsung Electronics, as well as Nokia Oyj, Blackberry maker Research in Motion and iPhone maker Apple Inc.

Research firm Gartner predicts the Android operating system will become the world’s second most popular operating system for cell phones this year, almost two years sooner than first expected.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software will be publicly unveiled on October 11 and is expected on handsets in stores by November. HTC is set to be one of the first companies to make smartphones for the Microsoft system.

HTC’s sales reached T$27.1 billion in September, more than double from the same month a year earlier, while third quarter revenues reached T$75.85 billion, from T$33.81 billion a year earlier.

The company will hold a marketing event on Thursday in Taiwan to launch new smartphone models.

Reporting by Argin Chang; Editing by Jonathan Standing