Fri, May 05, 2006 - Page 11 News List

World Cup fails to spur TV sales

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Disappointing demand for flat-panel televisions for the World Cup soccer tournament has driven up inventory in Europe over the past three months, but the pressure may ease in summer on inventory buildup for the peak season at year's end, market researcher iSuppli Corp said on Wednesday.

In the first quarter, inventory was about six to eight weeks, compared with the normal four-to-six weeks in North America, which has high demand for flat-panel TVs, said Eric Wu (吳金榮), head of an iSuppli branch in Taipei.

"TV vendors have high expectations for the soccer World Cup, but the demand has just been disappointing," Wu said.

Weaker demand caused oversupply and brought down prices for liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels used in the popular 32-inch, 37-inch and 42-inch TVs by 7 percent last month from March, Wu said.

Wu predicted prices for TV panels overall to drop another 8.6 percent next quarter.

A 32-inch LCD panel for TVs is priced at US$485 per unit, down 3 percent from US$500 per unit during the second half of April, according to market researcher DisplaySearch.

However, Wu said he held a bullish view about the slim-screen TV sector. He expected inventory pressure would ease later this or next month, when TV manufacturers start placing orders for peak season in the second half of the year.

He also expected prices for TV sets to drop further as vendors hope to spur demand and digest inventory.

To stimulate demand in Taiwan, vendors have axed prices primarily for mainstream 32-inch LCD TVs. LG Electronics Co, which ranks No. 1 in plasma-display-panel (PDP) TV sales in Taiwan, made the latest move.

LG said it would lower prices for mainstream sized LCD TVs and PDP TVs ranging between NT$10,000 and NT$59,000 per unit, following rivals Sony Corp and Matsushita Electric Industrial, which sells consumer electronics under the Panasonic brand.

LG said the price cuts followed a belief that growth for slim-screen TVs next month and in July would be significant.

A 42-inch LCD TV, which has suffered the biggest drop, now costs only NT$129,000 (US$4070), compared to NT$188,000 before the price adjustment.

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