Hard disk and camera makers hit by Thai floods

Canon factory pictured on 16 October Canon's factory in Pathum Thani, north of Bangkok, is one of the plants affected by the floods

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The Thai floods are set to cause up to a 30% slump in hard disk production in the last three months of the year compared to the prior period, according to IHS iSuppli.

A report by the research firm said hard disks have already risen in price because of damage caused to factories.

It warned supply shortages may continue throughout the first half of 2012.

It also said Canon, Nikon and Sony's local camera-making plants had been affected by the natural disaster.

More than one-third of Thailand's provinces have been inundated by floodwater since July. The report estimated that a total of 14,000 factories had been damaged.

The study claimed the hard disk industry had been "hit hardest".

Thailand is the world's second biggest producer of the devices after China.

Halted production lines

Western Digital is highlighted as one of the worst affected disk producers.

The report said the US company's shipments may drop by up to 59% over the current quarter, causing it to post as much as a $269m (£169m) loss for the period.

That would result in the firm's losing its "bestselling" status to one of its rivals.

The company was reported to be working with its component suppliers to try to increase output at unflooded locations.

Toshiba, Hitachi GST, Seagate and Samsung were among the other manufacturers identified to have suffered disruption.

Higher prices

IHS iSuppli said the supply disruption would cause hard disk prices to rise by around 10% between October and December.

It said PC makers, such as Apple and Hewlett Packard, were most exposed to these higher costs.

Firms making television set top boxes, which use hard disks to record programmes, were also warned they might need to make adjustments. The report suggested one solution would be to offer customers less storage.

However, it said enterprise customers, such as Google or the network systems specialist EMC should not be harmed. These firms typically hold larger disk inventories, and their key suppliers - Seagate and Hitachi GST - had suffered less disruption than others.

The study also flags up problems for digital camera makers.

It said Sony had suspended local production of its Alpha/Nex branded cameras bodies and lenses, Nikon's APS-C digital SLR plant was out of action and Canon had trimmed forecasts for several of its models.

It also noted that international carmakers and computer chip manufacturers were among the other businesses affected by the crisis.

In conclusion, IHS iSuppli said that until the floodwaters cleared it was impossible to fully assess the damage caused.

However, it noted that while the highly interconnected nature of the electronics industry had added to the disruption, it would also provide opportunities to help restore supplies.

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