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PC forecast cut in wake of HDD shortage: analyst

The shortage of hard disk drives will have a significant impact on the growth of PCs in the fourth quarter, according to Barclays Capital.

Barclays Capital has slashed its PC growth forecast for the fourth quarter due to the shortage of hard disk drives and continued weakness in the PC market, according to reports.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard disk drive.
Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard disk drive. Western Digital

The investment bank cut its global PC growth forecast for the fourth quarter to 4.3 percent from 7.2 percent "due to continued weak demand and a shortage of hard drive disks (HDD) resulting from the flooding in Thailand," according to a number of Asia-based outlets such as the China Post, citing a Barclay's research note.

And the bank didn't stop there, lowering its full-year forecast to 3.4 percent from 4.4 percent. Kirk Yang, a Barclay's analyst, said the "concerns will likely continue into the first quarter of 2012, before normal HDD production in Thailand resumes."

This follows another Asia-based report from DigiTimes on Friday that claimed that some vendors are in a "panic" because of HDD inventory shortfalls.

That report says vendors' orders for HDDs are not being filled, forcing them to turn to the gray market.

Japan-based HDD motor supplier Nidec--which accounts for more than 70 percent of the global HDD motor market--has shut down enough manufacturing equipment that a full recovery may take two years, according to DigiTimes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last month during the company's earnings conference call that he's "virtually certain there will be an overall industry shortage of disk drives as a result of the disaster."

But prices for systems should not rise appreciably. At least not in the immediate future. For example, if the price of an HDD rises $30, then the cost of a PC will inch up only a few percentage points at most, according to Digitimes.

And this is not bad news for everyone. Makers of Windows-based Ultrabook laptops, which compete with Apple's MacBook Air, use solid-state drives for the most part, which are not affected.