Wed, Dec 08, 2010 - Page 11 News List

AU Optronics sales last month up by almost 5%

CARTEL FINES:Meanwhile, AUO rivals such as Chi Mei Optoelectronics and LG Display could be fined up to 700 million euros for fixing prices of LCD panels

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff Reporter, with Bloomberg

With panel shipments increasing across the board last month, AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) yesterday said that preliminary consolidated revenue last month reached NT$36.87 billion (US$1.2 billion), up 4.95 percent from October, but down 4.03 percent from a year earlier because falling prices, a company statement showed.

The Hsinchu-based company posted consolidated revenues of NT$35.13 billion in October, the lowest since February’s NT$32.67 billion, and NT$38.42 billion in November last year.

The company, the nation’s No. 2 flat-panel maker by revenue after Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子), said that shipments of large-sized panels last month rose 6.3 percent from the previous month to about 9.72 -million units, while those of small and medium-sized panels edged up 1.5 percent to 18.04 million units.

Large-sized panels refer to models that are 10 inches or more and that are mainly used in desktop monitors, notebook computers and LCD TVs, while small to medium-sized panels refer to those under 10 inches that are used in smartphones and netbooks.

Consolidated revenue in the first 11 months of the year totaled NT$436.55 billion, up 35.37 percent from NT$322.5 billion in the same period last year, the firm said.

On Oct. 27, the company said that shipments of large-sized panels would likely grow by 3 to 5 percent quarter-on-quarter from the 28.7 million units shipped in the third quarter, but that the average selling price would likely fall further this quarter.

Prices of flat panels have been undergoing a prolonged downward spiral in recent months due to excessive inventories. In the first half of this month, IT panel prices remained flat from the last two weeks of last month, while TV panel prices continued to display a slower decline, market researcher DisplaySearch’s data showed.

Citigroup analyst Jonathan Rhee said he expected IT panel prices to rebound in the fourth quarter, while TV panel prices will drop at a slower rate.

“We expect IT panel customers to start restocking given limited room for further price drops. However, we expect TV panel prices to continue to decline albeit more mildly, given less-than-strong Chinese demand after the Chinese Golden Week and still relatively weak North American demand,” he said in a report on Sunday.

EU FINES

Meanwhile, LG Display Co, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp and three other companies may be fined up to 700 million euros (US$930 million) by the EU for fixing the price of LCD panels, Reuters reported.

Samsung Electronics Co may escape fines, to be levied today, because it was the first in the cartel to inform the European Commission, Reuters said on Monday.

LCD panels are used in mobile phones, televisions and computers.

Chi Mei, which merged with Innolux Display Corp (群創光電) in March to form Chimei Innolux Corp, pleaded guilty to US antitrust charges last year and agreed to pay US$220 million in fines.

LG Display and Samsung Electronics said in 2006 they were being probed by regulators around the world over alleged price fixing.

AU Optronics said it received a formal complaint from the European Commission in May last year.

Lee Bang-soo, a spokesman for LG Display, didn’t immediately respond to a call or e-mail outside normal office hours. Likewise, a call to Samsung Electronics in Seoul and calls and e-mails to Chi Mei representatives Eddie Chen (陳彥松) and Loreta Chen (陳靜燕) went unanswered outside business hours.

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