Wed, Oct 04, 2006 - Page 12 News List

DisplaySearch believes LCD price rise will continue

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Market researcher DisplaySearch yesterday forecast prices for computer liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels would extend the recent rebound to the end of the year on seasonal demand, offering a breather for struggling panel makers.

The Austin, Texas-based research house said a nascent price hike for 17-inch computer panels last month has helped certain panel makers to eke out a profit.

More panel manufacturers would benefit from constant price increases in the monitor panels, which have suffered the brunt in the overcapacity-driven down-cycle in the first half of this year, DisplaySearch said.

"The recent price hike is a positive sign, indicating the demand is real. Panel supply is pretty tight now," said David Hsieh (謝勤益), head of DisplaySearch's local unit.

Hsieh said prices for monitor panels rose by another US$6 to US$8 per unit last month, faster than their estimate of US$3 to US$5. TV panel prices, in general, should improve ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said.

DisplaySearch yesterday raised its forecast for TV panel demand by almost 9 percent to 50.4 million sheets this year, compared to its previous estimate of 46 million.

"We believe demand will be sustainable to prompt the prices for computer panels to rise further in November and to hold steady in December," Hsieh said.

The price for 17-inch computer panels would climb to approximately US$132 per unit in the fourth quarter from US$128, well above the cost of US$97, DisplaySearch predicted.

But, Hsieh said they still expect an oversupply problem in the first half of next year, usually the slack season for the industry.

He expected panel supply to exceed demand by -- at best -- more than 8 percent in the first six months of next year.

"The first quarter will be a challenge for LCD panel makers, but it is difficult to predict how serious the oversupply will be as panel makers now realize they can manage the situation by reducing their equipment usage," Hsieh said.

He said panel makers were able to reverse a serious oversupply problem by lowering their factory usage in July.

AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world's third-biggest LCD panel maker, urged its peers to reduce production to prevent oversupply, a suggestion which received positive reaction even from bigger rival LG Philips LCD Co.

"We are optimistic about supply and demand situation for the first quarter," Hsieh said.

DisplaySearch said the worst-case scenario would be a glut of more than 25 percent in the second quarter of next year, as a result of all panel manufacturers utilizing their factories.

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