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HTC hit with yet another operating loss in 4th quarter

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's HTC Corp. posted an operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2013, its second consecutive quarterly operating loss after being in the black every quarter since going public in 2002.

In a statement issued yesterday, the struggling smartphone maker said it had an operating loss of NT$1.56 billion (US$52 million) in the fourth quarter, smaller than that of the previous quarter after cutting back on expenses.

Consolidated revenue in the October-December period was the lowest of any of the final three quarters of 2013 at NT$42.89 billion.

But net income before tax was in the black at NT$1.15 billion because of a NT$2.52 billion gain from HTC's sale of its stake in U.S.-based headphone maker Beats Electronics.

That translated into earnings per share of NT$0.38 for HTC in the quarter, not enough to prevent the company's first ever annual loss of NT$1.6 per share in 2013, the statement said.

The fourth quarter results were in line with HTC's forecast of NT$40 billion-NT$45 billion in sales and earnings per share of NT$0.1-1.7.

The company reported a net loss per share of NT$3.58 in the third quarter, its first-ever quarterly loss as a publicly listed company.

HTC told investors during a conference call on Nov. 5 that the company's business in China, Europe and the U.S. would be better than previously expected thanks to the year-end shopping season effect.

The Taoyuan-based company said it was also working on reducing its operating costs, including marketing expenses, in the fourth quarter to a level below third-quarter costs in a bid to return the company to profitability.

Many local analysts remain negative on HTC's earnings outlook in 2014, citing intensifying competition and the lack of significant drivers of growth in the pipeline.

HTC shares closed unchanged at NT$138.5 Friday in Taipei trading. The company's shares lost 53 percent of their value in 2013.

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