The Smartphone Stock You Should Be Buying, but Aren’t

HTC is performing every bit as well as its best peers.

Tim Beyers
Tim Beyers
Apr 11, 2011 at 12:00AM
Other

Just as no two versions of Android are exactly alike, no two Android handset makers are exactly alike, either. Right now, none look quite as good as Taiwan's HTC.

Most U.S. investors only know HTC for its Android partnership with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which has yielded the hit EVO, Inspire, and Thunderbolt smartphones. The Thunderbolt, in particular, has outsold the iPhone in some locations and delivered scorching 4G download speeds in a recent test of Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) network.

But there's more to HTC than its handsets. Relationships with AT&T (NYSE: T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S), and of course Verizon helped the company record massive first-quarter earnings gains and overtake Nokia (NYSE: NOK) as the world's third-largest phonemaker by market value, Bloomberg reports.

Profits more than tripled to 14.8 billion in New Taiwan Dollars (NT$) in the first quarter, well above the 12.8 billion analysts were expecting. They're calling for NT$16.4 billion in second-quarter earnings, Bloomberg reports, some of which should come from its soon-to-ship Flyer tablet.

Frankly, there's only one problem with HTC. You can't buy stock in the company here in the U.S. unless you have a brokerage account that allows you to buy directly on the Taiwan exchange. HTC trades under the numerical ticker "2498" in Taipei.

Too bad. According to Capital IQ data, HTC outperforms Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in terms of returns on capital and equity. While the Mac maker trades for less -- 23 versus 36 times trailing normalized earnings -- it's hard to call HTC overvalued when the company is positioned to lead Android to a 50% global share of the handset market before the end of next year. If anything, the data have me wondering if I should open an account with the foreign trading privileges needed to buy HTC shares.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about HTC's results, the evolving Android market, and how Google will profit from it all using the comments box below.

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