Taiwan Quake Could Impact PC Production, Analysts Say

TOKYO: Industry analysts expect Taiwan's worst earthquake in a century to have a larger impact on supplies of motherboards and assembly of personal computers (PCs) than supplies of memory chips and liquid crystal displays. The havoc-stricken Taiwan, which was hit by the earthquake early this week, accounts for about 50% of the global notebook-sized PC production and around 60-70% of motherboard production, according to analysts. "I expect Japanese PC makers to see some impact on their procurement of motherboards as Taiwan is the world's largest producer of motherboards. There is also a possibility that those who entrust PC production to Taiwan to see supply shortages in the medium- and long-term," says Masayuki Yonezawa, senior analyst at New Japan Securities Co. Ltd. Although the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market has already begun to see prices surge due to an expected supply shortage caused by power outages in Taiwan, Yonezawa says, "there is the potential capacity to overcome the temporary shortage as top makers in South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have adjusted their production." Prices of 64-Mbit DRAM chips soared to around US$17 on the spot market Sept. 21. The price before the deadly earthquake was US$14. Naoki Sato, an analyst at Sumitomo Life International Investment Management, also says PC manufacturers have already reduced their inventories, which could heighten price and supply concerns. But, he says, "the focus is when the power supply will resume and when Taiwan factories will get back to normal operations." A spokesman for IBM Japan Ltd., a Japanese subsidiary of U.S.-based International Business Machines Corp., says the company procures PC parts, including motherboards, from Taiwan and entrusts assembling of notebook-sized PCs and other PCs to Acer and other Taiwan companies. The spokesman points out, however, the company has not obtained enough supply-related information from Taiwan yet to determine the earthquake's impact on supply of motherboards and other parts. Meanwhile, in the liquid crystal display (LCD) sector, industry analysts do not expect any major impact from the earthquake as Taiwan manufacturers do not produce advanced LCDs.

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