An employee demonstrates an HTC Vibe VR virtual reality headset in the HTC Corp. pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Shares in the former Taiwan index heavyweight HTC crashed to a 16-year low last week as the ailing smartphone maker revealed that sales had gone off a cliff.

Monthly sales were a stomach-churning 54% down on a year ago and the lowest since 2003. It was rewarded with falls of around 7% on both Friday and Monday this week, taking the share price to just 3% of its 2011 high.

The company is being eaten alive in the smartphone market and has made a baffling segue into the virtual reality sector. Last year it racked up record losses and only staved off a first quarter loss this year by unloading its smartphone original design manufacturing (ODM) assets to Google for $1.1bn. In July it announced 25% staff layoffs.