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Wistron shares upgraded after optimism for recovery of laptop and handset market

TAIPEI -- J.P. Morgan Securities has upgraded its rating on shares of Wistron Corp. (緯創) from “neutral” to “overweight” on expectations that the laptop and handset business will rebound for the Taiwanese contract manufacturer next year.

“Our upgrade is based on our view that Wistron hit the trough in the first half of 2014 and will see a recovery across all product lines,” William Chen, a J.P. Morgan analyst in Taipei, wrote in a research note Monday.

He forecast that Wistron will ship 22 million notebook computers in 2015, a 10 percent increase from an estimated 20 million units for 2014 and its first annual shipment growth after four consecutive years of decline.

The optimism stemmed from Wistron's planned budget of NT$2.8 billion (US$93.5 million) that will be used to expand its notebook production capacity in Chongqing in southwestern China by 50 percent from 2015 to 2016, Chen said.

The continued recovery in demand in the global notebook industry should also lead to a higher growth for Wistron than for its rivals Pegatron Corp. and Inventec Corp., given Wistron's larger market share, he predicted.

In the handset business, Wistron's performance has been disappointing this year due to poor tablet business from its major customer Acer Inc., weak phone sales of another client BlackBerry, and a lack of orders from Apple Inc. for its iPhone 6, the analyst said.

But Chen said he expects Wistron's handset-related revenue to grow 80 percent year-on year in 2015, boosting its profitability, amid improving business ties with Apple and a growing contribution from its LCD panel module manufacturing.

Taking these factors into account, Chen raised his price target for Wistron shares from NT$25 to NT$36.

Shares in Wistron ended 0.51 percent lower at NT$29.50 Tuesday in Taipei trading.

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