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September 22, 2017

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Acer trade volume erupts after pep talk by founder

Trade volume for shares of Acer Inc. erupted yesterday after its founder gave a pep talk, urging that the company should not focus on being No. 1 so much as it should on increasing profitability, in the midst of fierce competition from smart phone and tablet PC makers.

Acer last Friday shocked the PC industry by slashing its sales forecast for Q1 from an increase of 3 percent year-on-year to a decline of 10 percent. The company's stock fell to its daily limit both on Monday and Tuesday, with foreign institutional investors selling a total of 6,273 units on Tuesday alone. Each stock unit is 1,000 shares of that stock.

Investment trust firms pretty much followed in foreign investors' footsteps, while securities firms were on the buy side both on Monday and Tuesday.

What was seen as motivational talk by ever so iconic Acer founder Stan Shih Tuesday put an end to the selling spree yesterday, as the shares closed with total trade volume of 148,000 units. The stock however closed down again, albeit by a much smaller margin of 3.8 percent, to NT$60.7, still above the critical NT$60 level. The TAIEX dropped nearly 50 to 8,646.31.

Tuesday, Shih, who still serves as a director on Acer's board, urged the PC giant to undergo another restructuring effort to ward off competition from smart phone and tablet PC makers.

"We're only slashing our sales forecast, not reporting a loss," he said. "Yet the mere fact that we had to downgrade a number that we had had wholehearted confidence in suggests the kind of challenge we're faced with."

He pointed out that Acer undergoes a major restructure effort about every ten years. "Now is about the time," Shih said.

He said Acer first has to abandon its "No. 1 in the market" mentality. Given diminishing profit margins that PC manufacturers are faced with, the correlation between No. 1 and profitability is no longer absolute, he said.

"Being No. 1 in the market is only a superficial victory, something that makes our faces look good," he said. "Yet realistically, we could have lost more through an erosion of earnings and profitability."

He said what Acer needs to do, as Apple has proved time and again, is to "sell products" as well as "sell service." The business model in which a manufacturer purely makes hardware will no longer work, he said.

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