Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 12 News List

CPT posts huge losses on falling demand, prices

GROWTH DRIVERS The LCD panel maker expects demand for smartphones and netbooks to boost sales of small and medium- sized panels this year

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (CPT, 中華映管), the nation’s No. 3 liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel manufacturer, sank into the red in the fourth quarter, with losses reaching NT$11.98 billion.

Following the massive losses, the Taoyuan-based company said it would focus this year on raising its profit margin by adjusting its product mix, riding on the increasing demand for products such as digital TVs, all-in-one PCs and netbooks, president Kay Chiu (邱創儀) told investors yesterday.

DIGITAL DEMAND

The company did not provide first-quarter guidance for its large-screen panel business unit, but vice president Brian Lee (李學龍) said he expected the unit to grow thanks to the popularity of screens with 16:9 aspect ratio used in digital and high-definition TVs as well as computer monitors.

For TV panels, CPT expects its 32-inch and 37-inch models to gain momentum as countries such as the US and China adopt the digital TV format.

As for notebooks and desktop monitors, CPT expects 15.6-inch panels to be the future notebook standard, while 18.5-inch and 21.5-inch panels are likely to prevail in the all-in-one PC market, as shown in the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Lee said.

Meanwhile, vice president Lin Sheng-chang (林盛昌), in charge of the small and medium-sized panel business unit, said sharp growth in smartphones and netbooks would be the primary sales drivers this year.

INVENTORY

However, Lin expects shipments to grow only after the second quarter as global PC vendors are still busy digesting inventories.

“As average selling prices fell below cost for CPT, we carefully screened out orders in the fourth quarter, resulting in a quarterly sales loss of 36.9 percent to NT$16.57 billion.” Chiu told investors yesterday.

Lin said the mobile handset market appeared to have diverged into two low-end and high-end devices.

Riding on this trend, his department is focusing on production of 2-inch and 3-inch LCDs for low-end and high-end handsets respectively.

IMPROVEMENTS

While fourth-quarter results were disappointing, Chiu said the company saw an improvement in its cash and inventory position. Its cash equivalents reached NT$24.12 billion, while its inventory dropped by NT$4 billion sequentially.

Shipments of large-screen panels reached 3.5 million units, while small and medium-sized panels totaled 11.2 million units in the fourth quarter, representing quarterly declines of 38 percent and 35 percent respectively.

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