Global liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel makers could see their equipment utilization rate improve to nearly 80 percent in the current quarter and to more than 90 percent in the second half of the year, a market researcher said yesterday.
The rising utilization rate reflects a gradual recovery in end demand rather than a situation driven simply by inventory buildup, Austin, Texas-based DisplaySearch said at an annual flat-panel conference in Taipei.
The researcher bases its confidence on faster-than-expected growth of LCD television sales in the first two months in North America, the world’s largest TV market.
Recovering demand may also drive up panel prices by around 9 percent quarter-on-quarter for TV panels and more than 10 percent for computer panels this quarter, following 3 percent quarterly hikes in the first quarter, DisplaySearch said.
David Hsieh (謝勤益), a vice president of DisplaySearch, said on the sidelines of the conference that LCD TV sales in North America grew more than 40 percent year-on-year in both January and February.
“We are optimistic about the LCD industry outlook,” Hsieh said. “In January and February, we already saw LCD TV demand pick up in China and North America. In April, demand in Europe should join the revival.”
“We are now almost certain that the recovery is underway and will be sustainable in the second half of this year,” Hsieh said, adding that demand may jump 30 percent quarter-on-quarter in the third and fourth quarters.
In light of recovering demand, DisplaySearch is considering raising its LCD TV panel shipment forecast to 140 million units this year, up 5.58 percent from its forecast of 132.6 million units globally, Hsieh said.
“We are seeing demand picking up, mostly from China, and the momentum may extend into the second half,” said Daniel Lee, a market director at the Taiwan branch of LG Display Co, the world’s No. 2 LCD panel supplier.
LG Display’s utilization rate improved to more than 90 percent in the first quarter from less than 70 percent in the fourth quarter, Lee said.