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Foreign brokerages mixed on TPK earnings

TAIPEI--Foreign brokerages have appeared mixed about TPK Holding Co.'s earnings outlook, even though the flat panel maker turned a profit in the first quarter of this year.

In a research note, BNP Paribas said it has an upbeat mood about the benefits TPK will enjoy after Apple Inc., one of the Taiwanese firm's major clients, launches the next generation of the iPad and unveils the iWatch later this year.

BNP Paribas said TPK's first-quarter earnings were lower than the brokerage's estimate, as the flat panel supplier incurred losses from its non-core business investments, while its operating margin was better than expected.

In the January-March period, TPK posted NT$129 million (US$4.26 million) in net profit, or earnings per share (EPS) of NT$0.39, an improvement from a net loss of NT$1.61 billion, or a loss per share of NT$4.88, in the fourth quarter of last year.

TPK's first-quarter operating margin, which stood at 1.1 percent, was up from 0.4 percent recorded in the fourth quarter.

The brokerage said it has upgraded its forecasts of TPK's EPS for 2014 and 2015 by 4 percent and 44 percent, respectively, to NT$13.03 and NT$21.69, adding that the 2016 EPS could hit NT$21.8.

It has raised a target price on TPK shares to NT$205 from NT$125, while recommending an "equal weight" on the stock — an upward revision from "underweight."

Barclays Capital held a similar optimistic attitude about TPK, saying that Apple's new products are likely to boost the Taiwanese firm's bottom line in the second half of this year.

The brokerage has maintained an "overweight" recommendation and a target price of NT$400 on TPK shares.

However, Morgan Stanley said it was cautious about TPK shares, adding that details about Apple's iWatch remain unclear, which makes it difficult to judge how the new product will boost TPK's shipments.

In addition, it remains to be seen whether TPK's new plant located in China's Fujian Province, which is scheduled to kick off operations in September, will deliver a satisfactory yield rate, Morgan Stanley said.

The brokerage said it has left in place an "underweight" recommendation and a target price of NT$125.5 on TPK shares.

JP Morgan Chase, which has reservations about TPK's earnings in the second half of this year, has urged investors to pocket their earlier gains from TPK shares in recent sessions, while maintaining a target price of NT$170 on the stock.

On Friday, shares of TPK fell 4.01 percent to close at NT$215.50 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

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