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Business

HTC shareholders give executives an earful over weak results

TAOYUAN, Taiwan -- Shareholders of HTC on Thursday berated senior management over the smartphone company's poor performance in the last few years. 

     HTC's stock has fallen by about 90% since it peaked at 1,300 New Taiwan dollars in early 2011. The company lost NT$1.3 billion ($43 million) for all of 2013 and remained in the red in the first quarter of 2014. It has been plagued by a failure to effectively manage its supply chain in relation to demand, as well as ineffective marketing and a mass exodus of high-ranking executives. 

     Although the company projects a profitable second quarter -- thanks to the popularity of its midrange Desire 816 phone in China and strong demand for its flagship One M8 handset worldwide -- a 27.4% on-year drop in May revenue casts doubt on the prospects for meeting the estimate.

     Investors' frustration boiled over at HTC's annual general meeting. "HTC shareholders have been suffering losses (due to) faulty decisions by the senior management," one stakeholder told the executives on hand. "I hope Chairwoman Cher Wang will take responsibility and announce she will resign if the company cannot deliver reasonable profits within six months."

     This sentiment was echoed by many; other complaints aimed at management were met with applause.

     HTC officials insisted they are working hard to turn the company around, though they offered little in the way of concrete measures.

     "I have confidence in HTC and remain the company's biggest shareholder," Wang said. "The management is working hard on innovation every day."

     CEO Peter Chou said the company will strive to improve its supply chain this year, suggesting investors could expect better results in "two to three quarters."

     But Chou also admitted that the company lacks the resources to launch aggressive marketing campaigns in the West. "TV commercials in the U.S. and Europe are expensive, and we do not have that much money," he said. 

     HTC lags behind Apple and Samsung Electronics in the global market for high-end smartphones. At the same time, it is being squeezed hard by Xiaomi, ZTE and other mainland brands in China's midtier market.

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