Wed, Jun 15, 2011 - Page 12 News List

PC panel prices to increase by up to 6%: AUO

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou, second left, examines a product on display at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Nangang Exhibition Hall yesterday after speaking at the opening ceremony for concurrent expositions on flat panel displays, optoelectronics, LED lighting and photovoltaics. The shows close tomorrow.

Photo: CNA

AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電), the nation’s No. 2 LCD panel maker, yesterday said PC panel prices would increase by between 5 percent and 6 percent this quarter from last quarter, helped by improving commercial notebook computer demand in the US and most Asian markets such as China.

The projection was slightly down from the quarterly increase of between 5 percent and 8 percent in PC panel prices forecast by the Hsinchu-based company in April.

In the first quarter, PC panel prices rebounded 3.7 percent to US$55 per unit from US$53 in the previous quarter.

“Market demand is healthy,” Michael Tsai (蔡國新), a vice president of AUO’s information technology display business group, said on the sidelines of the annual optoelectronics show in Taipei.

Tsai also said strong demand for the company’s touch panels mostly used in tablet devices has caused supply constraints. About 10 percent to 15 percent of AUO’s notebook computer panels are equipped with touch sensors.

Looking forward, Tsai said “customers hope [business in] the third quarter will be good.”

Separately, E Ink Holdings Inc (元太), the world’s biggest e-reader display supplier, yesterday said China’s biggest e-reader maker, Hanvon Technology Co (漢王科技), plans to launch a new e-reader outfitted with E Ink’s first e-reader display to enable touch function.

US customer Amazon.com and other customers are expected to sell new e-readers equipped with the color displays in the next few months, E Ink said. E Ink -commanded 90 percent of the global e-reader display market with customers from Amazon to Sony.

Commenting on the company’s second-quarter operation, E Ink chairman Scott Liu (劉思誠) said revenues declined more than he originally expected because of weak demand for LCD panels for tablet devices. This was because customers re-designed their products after Apple Inc raised the bar for tablet devices with its new iPad 2.

“Slow demand for LCD panels made on FFS [Fringe Field Switching] technology is the main reason behind the revenue decline,” Liu said. “Our e-reader display business is in line with our expectations.”

As a result, Liu said the company’s FFS LCD revenues would fall at a faster-than-expected pace to make up less than one-third of the company’s total revenues this year.

E Ink posted a 15 percent decrease in revenues for last month to NT$2.09 billion (US$72 million) from NT$2.47 billion in April after revenues contracted 26 percent month-on-month in April.

The revenue decline has outpaced some analysts’ expectations. Macquarie originally estimated E Ink would see revenue drop by between 10 percent and 15 percent this quarter from last quarter’s NT$10.09 billion.

Liu maintained his forecast for the company’s e-reader display shipments, saying shipments would grow two-fold or three-fold this year from last year, aligning with the e-reader’s expansion.

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