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HTC Q1 net climbs on new phones

High Tech Computer Corp., the world's largest maker of handsets using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, said first-quarter profit rose 24 percent because new mobile phones helped increase sales.

Net income climbed to NT$6.87 billion from NT$5.54 billion a year earlier, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in an e-mail yesterday. High Tech was expected to post profit of NT$6.76 billion, according to the median of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. High Tech's spokeswoman Maggie Cheng said demand for new handsets, especially touch-screen models that compete with Apple Inc.'s iPhone, bolstered earnings. The company also released phones in the U.S. and Europe in the first quarter that offer satellite navigation, and expects to produce devices this year using an operating system backed by Google Inc.

"HTC should benefit from its leading position with the increasingly popular operating systems of Microsoft and Google," Tony Tseng, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. in Taipei, who rates the company "buy," wrote in a report April 2.

Tseng says he expects the company to become the third- largest producer of so-called smart phones this year, behind Nokia Oyj and Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the Blackberry device.

High Tech's first-quarter sales gained 39 percent from a year earlier to NT$32.7 billion, surpassing the company's Jan. 31 projection for a 35 percent increase.

The company said reduced operating expenses also helped increase profit, without providing figures. High Tech is scheduled to hold a conference call on April 25 to provide more details on its earnings.

High Tech climbed 1.5 percent to close at NT$687 in Taipei trading yesterday, taking its gains this year to 15 percent. The benchmark TAIEX index rose 2.6 percent during the period. The company reported earnings after markets shut.

Tseng predicts High Tech will release its first phone using Google's operating system for handsets in the fourth quarter. High Tech said it expects to produce devices that allow wireless, high-speed Web access using the WiMax technology this year.

The company also produces mobile phones for Hewlett Packard Co. and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd.

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