European, U.S. Handset Sales Look Strong
Dec 29, 2003
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According to research firm GfK AG, handset sales in Europe climbed in October and November, putting the region in position to have a very strong fourth quarter. GfK said handset sales surged 14 percent in October and November compared to the same period last year.

December handset sales "may be tracking slightly ahead of expectations," said analyst Stuart Jeffrey. He estimates December sales typically account for as much as half of all fourth quarter sales. The figures suggest "handset demand remained strong during the first two months of the quarter," Mr. Jeffrey said. In 2002, December sales increased 70 percent compared to November sales, he said.

In addition, analysts predict 2- to 4-weeks of excess inventory in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2004 due to the muted impact of wireless number portability. During the same time last year, the U.S. market had 1- to 2-weeks of excess inventory.

"As the impact of wireless number portability on churn rates has proven modest in general, we believe that some inventory may build during the quarter," Mr. Jeffrey said. "Checks with carriers reveal no concern about the ability of the industry to sell those devices given strong subscriber momentum." (Dow Jones)

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