UPDATE 1-China's Lenovo buys and diversifies to outshine PC rivals
* Q4 net nearly doubles, fastest pace in seven quarters
* Lenovo No.2 in China in smartphones and media tablets
By Lee Chyen Yee and Umesh Desai
HONG KONG, May 23 (Reuters) - Lenovo Group Ltd's bold acquisitions in its flagship PC business, a foray into mobile gadgets, and a relatively light debt load are setting it apart from PC rivals as industry shipments take their steepest fall in decades.
Lenovo, a sliver away from unseating Hewlett-Packard Co as the world's top PC maker by shipments, posted on Thursday an estimate-beating 90 percent rise in quarterly profit, its fastest in seven quarters.
"They have been aggressive in acquiring several distributors in different regions such as Brazil, Europe and Japan over the past few years, so that basically gave them better distribution, as well as gains in market share," said Warren Lau, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong.
The Chinese PC maker posted net profit of $126.9 million in the quarter ended in March, up from $66.8 million a year earlier, based on Reuters calculations using full-year and nine-month financial data.
That beat expectations of a $110 million net profit and was the fastest pace since the first quarter of the 2011/2012 fiscal year, when growth doubled.
Research firm IDC said global PC shipments fell 13.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013, the biggest decline since it began tracking the market on a quarterly basis in 1994, as consumers switched to mobile computing and Windows 8 sales fell short of expectations. Continued...