ACID.L - Acer Incorporated

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  • The New Tech Paradigm Won't Save You
    Bloomberg

    The New Tech Paradigm Won't Save You

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Back in the day, PCs were hip and investors chased computer stocks to sky-high valuations. Everyone was buying a desktop, and then a laptop, and the companies that supplied them could do no wrong.Then came the smartphone. We all know to blame Apple Inc. for the end of the PC era. Though Steve Jobs didn’t invent the “phone + internet” mash-up, the iPhone spurred competitors to make such devices useful and customers took to them with glee. A decade-long smartphone boom followed.Take a look at the recent share price performance of handset makers and there’s not much left to be gleeful about. As handsets got boring, so too did the shares of the companies that relied on them for revenue. HTC Corp. and Xiaomi Corp., two of the few firms left that focus on handsets, have seen their shares plummet in the past year. PC makers, on the other hand, have been a little more exciting.Yet if you divide the universe of smartphone and PC makers in two, you’ll discover something interesting: Those that primarily focus on corporate customers or lead the market in a key non-consumer business are outperforming those that get a larger slice of revenue from smartphones and consumer PCs. Since Dec. 21, when Dell Technologies Inc. started trading again after a take-private deal in 2013, its shares jumped 21%. International Business Machines Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. have all climbed since that date. (2) By contrast, LG Electronics Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd., HTC, HP Inc., Acer Inc. and Xiaomi all dropped.  The first major outlier is Apple. I suspect that’s because fund managers sitting on piles of cash realized that it probably makes sense to put money into companies with fat margins and a cult following, even if it’s lost a little luster. ZTE Corp. also did well, but that’s mostly because it’s recovering from being at the wrong end of U.S. national-security policy.Instead of looking at PCs versus smartphones, a paradigm that worked well for around a decade, the better way for investors to divide the technology-hardware sector is consumer and enterprise. The two HPs – Enterprise and Inc. – serve as the perfect example. HP Inc. gets 60% of its revenue from desktop and notebook PCs, while HP Enterprise sells servers, storage and networking services. HP Enterprise is up 10% while HP Inc. fell 7% over the period. IBM is up 22%, Acer is down 13% and Xiaomi has fallen 36%. The lines do get a little blurred. Lenovo, for example, is also in the server and smartphone businesses, and Dell gets around 11% of its revenue from consumer PCs. Having divided their investible universe along these new fault lines, however, punters would be foolish to believe that the bull-run in enterprise will continue unabated. Both HPE and Dell last week raised their full-year earnings forecast, spurring shares to rise. In reality, that bottom-line strength appears to come from better margins and cost control rather than a rosier outlook for revenue. “We’ve tried to position the company to be successful in any economic environment,” Dell CFO Tom Sweet told Bloomberg News. That kind of attitude deserves the 10% single-day spurt the stock received. But cost control can only go so far. If a global economic slowdown and the trade war don’t abate, then not even fiscal pragmatism can save earnings.Sell-side analysts are adjusting accordingly. They’ve trimmed most companies’ 2019 revenue forecasts over the past six months, as well as next year’s EPS estimates.By examining more closely the end-market and customer base for each company, investors will find it easier to sort likely winners from losers. In the face of even bigger problems for the economy, however, a new analytic framework won’t change the fact that tough times are still ahead.(1) That's when Dell shares started trading. The rise/fall divide since that date is somewhat coincidental, but the wider point still stands: Enterprise has largely outperformed consumer.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • HP, Dell to Shift Up to 30% of Laptop Production From China, Report Says
    Bloomberg

    HP, Dell to Shift Up to 30% of Laptop Production From China, Report Says

    (Bloomberg) -- HP Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc. plan to move as much as 30% of their notebook production away from China, the Nikkei cited anonymous sources as saying, as global technology giants try to avoid escalating tariffs on U.S.-bound goods.Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co. are also looking to move some of their game console and smart speaker manufacturing away from the country, the Nikkei Asian Review cited those sources as saying. Other companies including Lenovo Group Ltd., Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. are evaluating their options, the media outlet reported.Corporations foreign and domestic are seeking to pivot production away from China amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to use punitive tariffs to negotiate friendlier trade terms. While many are drawing up contingency plans, shifting select assembly operations or exploring alternative manufacturing venues, few have moved output in significant amounts and China’s status as the world’s production base for electronics is unlikely to diminish anytime soon. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has already shifted much of its production of U.S.-bound motherboards to Taiwan, averting a 25% tariff, Bloomberg News reported last month.“HP shares industry concerns that broad-based tariffs harm consumers by increasing the cost of electronics,” a spokesman said in a statement. “We are actively monitoring the situation and will continue to work with government officials to advocate for the best interests of customers, partners and consumers.” A Dell spokesman noted that it has a global supply chain and said the company continuously explores “alternative sourcing, production, and logistics strategies to best serve our customers.”A Lenovo representative said the Nikkei report was inaccurate, without elaborating. An Acer spokesman referred to CEO Jason Chen’s comment in May that his company planned to finalize a production plan for U.S.-bound products later this year and is open to all options. Representatives for Microsoft, Amazon, Sony, Nintendo weren’t immediately available for comment outside of normal business hours. Asustek spokesman Nick Wu declined to comment.U.S. companies, long accustomed to using China as the world’s workshop, are exploring alternatives as tensions run high and Beijing shows a willingness to clamp down on foreign firms within its own borders. It’s a shift that may herald a broader, long-term trend as Beijing and Washington continue to spar over everything from market access to trade.The Taiwanese contract manufacturers that make most of the world’s electronics, including Apple Inc.-partner Foxconn Technology Group, have since 2018 accelerated the shift at their clients’ behest. Foxconn said last month it has enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. outside of China if necessary, although Apple has so far not asked for such a shift.The trade war threatens to disrupt a complex global supply chain involving many countries beyond just China and the U.S. Many components that go into devices aren’t made in the U.S., despite being designed there. A phone chip designed by Apple may come out of a factory in Taiwan, then be packaged (a process that prepares it for integration into a circuit) somewhere else, before being shipped to China for assembly into an iPhone.(Updates with companies’ responses in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Nico Grant.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.net;Gao Yuan in Beijing at ygao199@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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