Thu, May 21, 2009 - Page 12 News List

LED makers should see rise in revenue this year: Topology

TOP WINNERS Suppliers of LED chips with close links to flat-panel makers such as Lextar Electronics will benefit the most, a market researcher said

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local makers of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) may see revenue rebound by 5 percent this year as electronics makers including Samsung Electronics Co increase their use of LEDs in computers and TVs and countries replace street lamps with the energy-efficient alternative, a local research house said yesterday.

This year, LED companies such as the nation’s top LED chipmaker, Epistar (晶電), may report NT$56.7 billion in revenues, up 5 percent from last year’s NT$54 billion, Taipei-based Topology Research Institute (拓璞產業研究所) said in its latest report.

“The growing use of LED backlighting in notebook computers and TVs will be the main driver this year, offsetting the negative impact of the bleak economy. The beginning of LED use for street lamps will also help,” Topology analyst Eileen Huang (黃雅琳) told a seminar yesterday.

Suppliers of LED chips with close links to local flat-panel makers such as Lextar Electronics Corp (隆達電子) and Chi Mei Lighting Technology Corp (奇力) will benefit the most, Huang said.

Lextar is an LED unit spun off the nation’s largest liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel maker, AU Optronics Corp (友達光電). Chi Mei Lighting is an affiliate of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), Taiwan’s No. 2 maker of LCD panels.

This year, sales of notebooks with LED backlighting could account for 60 percent of an estimated total 155 million laptops, up sharply from 14 percent last year.

More PC makers are planning to replace traditional cold color florescent lamps (CCFL) with LED backlighting this year after LED prices dropped, Topology said.

Local LED chipmaker Formosa Epitaxy Inc (璨圓) and LED chip packager Unity Opto Technology Co (東貝) would enjoy robust growth this year as they supply LEDs to South Korea’s Samsung.

The electronics giant is launching a slew of large LED TV models this year costing only one-fifth the price of a model launched by Sony Corp in 2004, Huang said.

But LED TVs should only make up 2 percent of a total of 120.8 million LCD TV sets sold this year, she said.

LED street lamps would be one area of growth over the next few years as more countries announce plans to replace high-pressure sodium street lamps with LED lamps, Huang said.

The Chinese government is expected this year to approve plans from more than 20 cities to replace LED street lamps. That could mean US$1.5 billion in business opportunities for LED makers, Topology’s forecast indicated.

Huang expected the uptake of LED street lamps to be gradual as the price is still ten times higher than traditional lamps.

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