Smartphone maker HTC reports $73 million loss after horror first quarter

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has ended a horror first quarter, reporting an operating loss of NT$2.05 billion ($A73.1 million) for the quarter ending March 31.

The loss came off unaudited quarterly revenues of NT$33.12 billion ($A1.181 billion), and compounds a plunge in revenues during the fourth quarter of 2013.

The weak quarter included a particularly bad month in February, when the company reported just $NT7.225 billion ($A266m), down a massive 36.45% from $NT11.37 billion a year earlier.

February’s result represents a 25.29% month-on-month fall from January, when the company reported $NT9.6 billion in sales.

The company’s January result, in turn, was down 37.75% year-on-year from $NT15.5 billion a year earlier.

The weak sales during the quarter were compounded by reports Apple is using LinkedIn to poach engineering talent from the company, along with employees from key suppliers such as Inventec and Quanta Computer.

Once the world’s third largest smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple, in recent months HTC has battled a string of bad news stories as its market share has crumbled.

In September of last year, senior executives at the company were arrested and detained by the Taipei District Court, accused of embezzlement and attempting to steal trade secrets from the company.

The executives were accused of planning with local government officials on the mainland to establish a series of mobile phone design firms in mainland China, which would utilise HTC’s trade secrets and technology.

Then in October, the company halted one of its four production lines amid fears of a cashflow crisis.

By January, troubled PC maker Acer had to issue an official statement hosing down speculation of a possible merger with HTC, amidst a contracting global PC market.

Late last month, HTC announced the release of a new flagship smartphone, the HTC One M8, which it sells in Australia for $899 outright.

The company hopes the new device, which became available for pre-order in Australia on April 1, along with a new line-up of mid-tier devices, will help it to reverse its flagging fortunes in the marketplace.

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