Yes, the sky is truly falling for the PC industry. But there is an exception.


Note this statement just issued by rating firm Fitch:

“Fitch Ratings expects China’s Lenovo Group Limited (Lenovo) to continue to perform well in what is likely to remain tough times for most PC makers.”

High praise, indeed.

Plunging PC sales data from research firms IDC and Gartner on Wednesday produced the worst figures for PC makers in terms of percentage decline dating back to 1994 and sales totals lower than anytime since 2009.

Yet the avalanche of bad data, which does not include tablet sales, contained encouraging news for Lenovo.

The No. 2 PC maker (still just behind HP), which operates its executive headquarters in Morrisville, avoided the decline that pummeled competitors and also grew sales as well as market share in its toughest market – the U.S.

Lenovo kicked off its new fiscal year earlier this week with a huge two-day rally in Raleigh, bringing in some 3,000 employees from across its newly organized Americas division. From Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing on down, executive after executive praised Lenovo’s employees for creativity, sales and innovation yet warned that the industry was in turmoil. In his speech, Yang made clear that PCs were still Lenovo’s “bread and butter” and he expected the “team” to continue to produce good results.

The first quarter numbers demonstrated that Lenovo is – so far – bucking the PC decline even as it and other firms shift as quickly as possible to tablets and smartphones as the world goes cheaper and mobile.

The most encouraging news has to be Lenovo’s performance in the U.S. A big reason why IBM gave up on PCs and sold the Raleigh-based business group to Lenovo in 2005 was a failure to make much progress in the America market.

Now, after Lenovo aggressively sought thousands of channel partners as well as retail outlets (such as Best Buy), partnered with the NFL to raise its brand and produced a  lineup of products that won more than 50 awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, look at the bottom line for the U.S.:

1. No 5 in market share at 8.9 percent, just one tenth of a spot behind Toshiba with a 13.8 percent growth in sales to 1.27 million, says Gartner. Only Apple showed growth (7.4 percent) among the rest of the top five with HP plunging 23.3 percent and Dell 14.5 percent.

2. No. 5 in market share at 9 percent, with just 5,000 fewer sales than No. 4 Toshiba, according to IDC. Lenovo’s market share improved from 6.9 percent and sales jumped 13 percent to 1.274 million units. HP (-23 percent), Dell (-14 percent), Apple (-7.5 percent) and Toshiba (-5 percent) all fell.

International Numbers

Across global sales, Lenovo made a slight gain of 0.1 percent, according to Gartner while IDC reported 0 growth. However, sales by all its top rivals fell.

Bear in mind that Lenovo’s acquisitions and partnerships in 2012 are helping boost the company. No other firm has been nearly as aggressive in trying to expand its global footprint over the last two years.

That “attack” strategy developed by Yang produced 11.1 percent growth in Europe-Middle East-Africa where Gartner reported that HP (-32 percent), Acer (-24 percent), Dell (-16 percent), Asus (-18 percent) and “others” were hammered.

The bad news for Lenovo came from Asia-Pacific – primary its home market of China where sales overall declined a record 12.7 percent, according to IDC. The troubles there kept “Lenovo’s overall growth flat,” IDC noted.

But overall, Lenovo certainly appears to be in better shape than its competitors as it transitions to the “PC-Plus” era, as Yang puts it.