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PC maker hit by euro trading

ASUSTEK Computer Inc, maker of the low-cost Eee PC laptop, had a fourth-quarter foreign-exchange loss of as much as NT$2 billion (US$60 million) after the dollar rose against euro, the currency in which the Taiwan-based company earns most of its sales.

Exchange-rate fluctuations shaved around 2 percentage points from the gross margin of Asustek's own-brand products business, said a company official.

The euro has fallen 17 percent against the US dollar in the past six months as the economies of the 16 nations sharing the currency slump amid the global financial crisis. Europe accounts for 53 percent of revenue for Taipei-based Asustek, which charges its customers in the region in euros and pays for components in US dollars.

Asustek, the world's biggest supplier of the boards that connect computer parts, said on January 8 that it probably had a loss for the three months ended December 31 because of foreign-exchange losses and inventory writedowns.

Gross margin, the percentage of sales left after subtracting production costs, would be 10 percent to 13 percent of branded sales for the period, the company said at the time. That's narrower than the 15.8 percent in the third quarter.

Asustek posted revenue of NT$67.6 billion for the fourth quarter from sales of notebooks, phones and other electronics products bearing its name, according to monthly figures released by the company. Its own-brand product business accounts for about one-third of sales.



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