Tue, Feb 08, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Prices for LCDs could continue to decline in Q1

AT ODDS:The forecast of declining prices contradicts an earlier prediction made by AU Optronics that prices would remain stable this quarter after a 20% plunge

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The prices of LCD panels used for televisions and computers are expected to fall further this quarter as demand slackens in the traditionally slow season, extending a prolonged downtrend amid oversupply, a Taipei-based research house predicted.

Rising supplies would add pressure to panel prices, which have already dropped to cost--levels for most flat-panel makers, as it became unlikely that panel companies would lower factory output this month after reduced output caused brief supply constraints recently, TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report released last week.

“We expect demand to slide in the first quarter ... while supply increases,” the researcher said. “It will take more time to see a significant rebound.”

The forecast was at odds with the expectation of the nation’s No. 2 LCD panel maker, AU Optronics Corp (友達光電). The Hsinchu-based company told investors late last month that the prices for TV panels would be flat after plunging almost 20 percent quarter-on-quarter in the final quarter of last year.

Prices for computer panels would rise slightly, while equipment loading rates would improve slightly to 85 percent this quarter, the company said.

The drastic price decline in TV panels pushed the world’s major LCD panel manufacturers, including AU Optronics and its larger rival LG Display Co, into the red last quarter. AU Optronics posted bigger-than-expected losses of NT$11.34 billion (US$39.06 million) last quarter.

TV panel prices fell between 10 percent and 15 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter as global sales of energy-saving LED TVs, 3D TVs and Internet TVs fell short of most makers’ expectations because consumers weren’t willing to pay the high products costs, according to the report.

Prices of LCD panels used in PC monitors slowed to between 5 percent and 10 percent -quarter-on-quarter last quarter from a decline of up to 20 percent in the third quarter as demand rose on speculation of short supply during Lunar New Year holidays and reduced inventories, TrendForce said.

Shipments of PC monitor panels expanded 12.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, according to TrendForce.

Concern about supply constraints also boosted demand for panels used in notebook computers. Shipments of notebook panels grew 6.7 percent quarterly in the fourth quarter.

The price decline for notebook panels slowed to between 7 percent and 10 percent last quarter from the previous quarter, the research firm said.

TrendForce expected the price for notebook panels to drop this quarter as strong demand for tablet computers would undercut replacement demand after Intel Corp launched a new-generation of processors, as well as netbook computers.

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