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Weak Demand, Supply Issues Take a Toll on Q4 PC Shipments

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After registering six consecutive quarters of volume growth, worldwide PC (personal computer) shipments plunged in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the latest data compiled by Gartner.

According to the latest data compiled by the technology research and consulting company, 88.4 million PCs were shipped during the fourth quarter, down 5% from the year-ago period. The latest Gartner report depicts the end of the massive spike in PC demand due to the pandemic-led work-from-home and online learning wave.

The technology research firm outlined ongoing supply chain constraints and a decline in demand for Chromebooks as the main reasons behind the decline in PC shipments during fourth-quarter 2021.

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Weak Consumer Demand Hurts U.S. PC Market

Except for the U.S. market, PC makers registered growth across every region. The U.S. PC market witnessed a 24.2% year-over-year decline in shipments, primarily due to a collapse in educational demand, which severely hurt Chromebook sales. Also, the 2021 holiday season saw weaker PC sales compared to 2020 due to modest consumer demand.

Nonetheless, Gartner revealed that demand for commercial PC remained strong during the quarter mainly due to recovering economy and reopening of offices. However, continued supply chain issues negatively impacted shipments, primarily in the enterprise market.

Meanwhile, PC shipments in Europe increased 7.4% to 26 million units during the quarter, the highest volume in five years. Increasing economic and social recovery primarily led to this year-over-year growth.

PC shipments in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) region soared 11.5% year over year, primarily driven by increased demand for mobile PCs. According to Gartner, private enterprises ordered extra mobile PCs in anticipation of probable device shortages.

Top Vendors

Per the data compiled by Gartner, Lenovo LNVGY remained the top vendor with a market share of 24.6%. However, its market share shrunk 190 basis points (bps) while shipments plunged 11.9% to 21.7 million units during the quarter. The decline in Lenovo volumes was primarily due to softness in Chromebook demand, weakness in the U.S. market and supply chain constraints.

The aforementioned factors also affected HP Inc.’s HPQ volumes. Shipments declined 4.2% to 18.65 million units during the quarter. However, robust growth in the Asia Pacific market somewhat offset the impact of the negative factors mentioned above. The company holds the second spot with a market share of 21.1% in worldwide PC shipments.

Dell Technologies DELL and Apple AAPL hold the third and fourth positions with a market share of 19.5% and 7.7%, respectively. While PC sales for Dell improved 7.9% year over year to 17.2 million units, Apple witnessed an increase of 6.2% to 6.85 million units.

Acer Group holds the fifth position with a market share of 7%. The company’s shipment declined 9% year over year to 6.19 million units. With a market share of 6.9%, ASUS holds the sixth spot. PC shipments for ASUS increased 13.9% year over year to 6.1 million units.

Apple Emerges as the Sole Gainer in U.S. PC Sales

Per the data compiled by Gartner, Apple was the sole PC manufacturer, which registered year-over-year growth in the U.S. market. During the October-December quarter, the company delivered approximately 2.69 million units, 6.7% higher than the year-ago period.

Acer Group registered the highest year-over-year drop in PC deliveries of 40%, followed by Lenovo and HP Inc.’s 35.8% and 34.8% decline, respectively. Dell Technologies and ASUS witnessed a year-over-year decline of 13% and 5.8%, respectively, in fourth-quarter PC shipments.

Among the top vendors, while Apple has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), HP Inc., Dell and Lenovo carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Shipment Volumes to Remain Above the Pre-Pandemic Level

Over the past two years, PC manufacturers have been benefiting from increased demand for PCs amid the pandemic-induced remote-working and online-learning wave. The pandemic necessitated the use of PC systems, be it for remote work, web-based learning, video conferencing, video gaming, social media, consumer entertainment and streaming or online shopping.

However, the latest data compiled by Gartner depicts the end of pandemic-induced demand. The research firm believes that PC demand will remain weak over the next two years. However, it forecasts total annual volumes to remain above the pre-pandemic level during the period.

“The pandemic significantly changed business and consumer PC user behavior, as people had to adopt to new ways of working and living,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. “Post-pandemic, some of the newly established ways of using PCs will remain regular practice, such as remote or hybrid workstyles, taking online courses and communicating with friends and family online.”

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