Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 12 News List

LCD prices expected to stabilize in first half of this month

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The price of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels used in TVs and computers is expected to stabilize in the first half of this month as panel makers reduce factory output to mitigate oversupply, Taipei-based researcher WitsView said.

Its latest report showed that prices for computer panels could fall by 1 percent to 3 percent from the second half of last month on seasonal factors, during which the decline was about 1 percent to 4 percent. Prices for TV panels could decrease at a similar pace of 1 percent to 3 percent over half a month ago.

"The price decline would be less drastic than most analysts expect as we expect panel makers to cut production further to ease price pressure in the slack first quarter," said WitsView, adding that this was in spite of robust Christmas sales and healthy inventories.

Prices of the mainstream 19-inch LCD panels would drop 2 percent to an average of US$133 apiece in the first half of this month from US$138 in the second half of last month, WitsView said.

Despite stabilizing panel prices, BNP Paribas Securities analyst Frank Su (蘇穀祥) said that most flat panel makers, which could eke out profits in the fourth quarter, would swing to the red in the current quarter on constant falling in panel prices. Su expected the first quarter to be the a trough.

AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world's third-biggest LCD panel maker, made NT$1.8 billion (US$54.6 million), or NT$0.2 per share, in net income in the final quarter of last year, better than bigger rival LG Philips LCD Co, which posted third straight quarterly losses.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), the nation's second-biggest flat panel maker, earned NT$2.24 billion, or NT$0.34 per share, in the fourth quarter of last year, Su calculated.

Chi Mei and AU Optronics are scheduled to hold an investor's conference today and on Thursday.

AU Optronics called on competitors to cut production to reduce the impact of price erosion.

The company said it had cut equipment utilization to 90 percent in the final quarter of last year on weaker-than-expected demand, from full usage in the third quarter.

Global shipments of LCD panels for computers and TVs decreased 9 percent and 26 percent month on month, respectively, in December, a tally by Austin, Texas-based market researcher DisplaySearch showed.

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