AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world’s third-largest liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel maker, yesterday said sales last month dropped 53 percent from a year ago after computer and television panel shipments fell 26 percent to 5.93 million units as the global slowdown hit demand.
The latest shipment figure brought first-quarter PC and TV panel shipments to 13.15 million units, plummeting 40 percent from 22 million units during the same period last year.
On a quarterly basis, shipments in the first quarter were down 12.8 percent, beating the company’s forecast of a sequential decline of between 15 percent and 20 percent made in January.
AU Optronics said on Jan. 22 it was looking to strength from the Chinese market to give shipments a lift amid slowing demand from the US and Europe. Orders from China started rising on government subsidies for the purchase of computers and TVs in the rural areas.
Helped by Chinese demand for 26-inch and 32-inch TV panels, AU Optronics and its local rival, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), could see sales and shipments grow by between 30 percent and 35 percent sequentially in the second quarter, outperforming Asian competitors such as Samsung Electronics Co and LG Display Co, Citigroup said in a report on Monday.
This quarter, panel prices are expected to rebound by 5 percent quarter-on-quarter given supply constraints for some models, after a quarterly decline of between 12 percent and 13 percent last quarter and a 20 percent drop in the fourth quarter of last year, Citigroup said.
Factory utilization at the two Taiwanese companies could improve to between 70 percent and 75 percent this quarter from between 50 percent and 55 percent in the first quarter, the report said.
AU Optronics said that consolidated sales last month reached NT$22.11 billion (US$659 million), bringing first-quarter revenues to NT$50.73 billion, down 62.9 percent year-on-year or 15 percent quarter-on-quarter as prices dropped on shrinking demand.
As demand appears to be stabilizing, AU Optronics and Chi Mei could see quarterly losses narrow to NT$19 billion and NT$18 billion respectively in the first quarter, from record losses of NT$26.6 billion and NT$31.41 billion in the previous quarter respectively, Yuanta Securities Corp (元大證券) said.
Meanwhile, HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶), which mainly produces flat panels for PC monitors, yesterday said sales last month reached NT$2.81 billion, down 59 percent year-on-year, but up 72.6 percent from February.
In the first three months of the year, the Taoyuan-based company reported revenues of NT$5.69 billion, down 70 percent from NT$19.25 billion in the same period last year.
The Tainan-based Chi Mei is set to release its sales results today.