PC bill of materials creep higher amid hard drive shortage

Hard drives represent 11 percent to 12 percent of the PC bill of materials.

The bill of materials to make PCs and laptops has crept higher year over year, according to Barclays Capital estimates.

In a research note, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said a hard drive shortage---caused by flooding in Thailand---are likely to squeeze margins for PC makers. Based on comments from Western Digital and Seagate, hard drive prices are anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent higher, said Reitzes.

Most of the year-over-year price increase to make a PC was attributed to hard drive costs. Memory prices are stable and so are panel costs. Hard drives represent 11 percent to 12 percent of the PC bill of materials.

What's unclear is whether PC makers will be able to raise prices.

Reitzes said in a research note:

We believe the constrained HDD environment is likely to continue to impact the PC BOM despite relatively weak demand for PCs. We continue to believe that PC margins peaked in 2011 given higher HDD costs near term and prospects for more stable DRAM and panel costs as we move through 2012. As a result, we continue to believe there are risks for eventual margin contraction (or lack of expansion) at major PC vendors like Dell and HP in CY12 – even as these vendors raise some PC prices.

In the PC equation, Apple appears to be the least affected by hard drive shortages due to the popularity of the MacBook Air.

Related: Hardware makers slog through hard disk drive shortages