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HTC shares soar, new phone models get upbeat reviews

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Share of HTC Corp jumped on Wednesday after it launched its One series of models, taking the fight to Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc with fast graphic chips and advanced music and photography functions.

The new models of the world's No. 5 smartphone maker - the company's bet to boost sales this year after their swift fall as previous models failed to keep up with those from major rivals - have received positive reviews from analysts and tech magazines.

"Sales of HTC this quarter will be very good because of the new models," said Michael On, a managing director at Beyond Asset Management.

He expected shares of HTC would climb further as their valuation remains inexpensive, even though the anticipated debut of the new models had been priced in before the launch.

By 0217 GMT, HTC hit limit-up at T$672, the highest since mid-November. Its shares have climbed around 35 percent since the beginning of the year, though they are still well off a peak of T$1,238.10 struck in April last year.

The upswing marks a recovery for the worst performer among global smartphone companies last year, down 42 percent.

"We were impressed HTC seems to have resolved most of its hardware issues in 2H11," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Yeh in a research report.

"We believe its new marketing strategy of focusing on segmentation and killer features (camera & audio) should position HTC to regain consumer mindshare and support our above-consensus estimates."

Tech blog Digitaltrends also said HTC was successful in proving to the market that it could resurface with a hit, offering useful features and quality designs in its new models.

Barclays Capital analyst Dale Gai, however, felt less positive about HTC's upside as he expects quadcore smartphones offer limited differentiation in terms of hardware performance and price competition will intensify in late 2012.

"Since these new products that debuted today met our expectations without any upside surprise, we reiterate our view of strong sales growth (at 50 percent-plus q/q based on 11.0 million units) in 2Q12, but that competition from Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 remains a threat to HTC in 2H12 after robust sell-in volumes," Gai said in a report.

HTC said earlier this month that revenue may fall as much as 36 percent for the first quarter, much worse than analysts' expectations.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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