Mon, Sep 24, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Holiday season boosts LCD TV panels

OVERLOAD:The upcoming Golden Week holiday in China has raised prices for LCD panels as supply falls short of television makers’ demand and production lines evolve

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

The prices for mainstream LCD TV panels rose 1 percent in the second half of this month as booming inventory replenishment demand ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season constrained supplies, market researcher NPD DisplaySearch said.

The supply constraint was likely to extend into next quarter, the Texas-based research house said in the latest report issued on Friday.

“The upcoming seasonal sales peak starts with the Golden Week holiday in China in early October, and it will be a critical check point,” the researcher said in the report.

Over the past few months, Chinese television makers have been suffering from a short supply of certain set sizes as demand shot up in preparation for the annual Golden Week holiday in China, which usually begins on Oct. 1, it said.

That echoed recent comments from Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子), the biggest panel supplier for China’s major television brands. Chimei said it had clear order visibility before the end of November because demand has already surpassed what it can supply.

Currently, some mainstream models, including 32-inch, 40-inch, 42-inch screens and new models such as 39-inch and 50-inch panels, were not available for all TV makers, NPD DisplaySearch said.

Supply of some open cells, or semi-finished panels, such as 32-inch and 42-inch screens, became tight, it said. Open cells are LCD panels that have not been fully assembled yet — without backlight units and driver ICs, but filled with liquid. To cut costs, a growing number of TV makers are buying open cells to assemble the LCD panels in their own factories.

In the second half of this month, prices for 32-inch open cells for TVs rose 1 percent to US$102 per unit from two weeks ago and prices for 40-inch TV screens also increase 1 percent to US$223 per unit, according to NPD DisplaySearch’s tally.

Aside from strong demand, the research house attributed the tight supply to product evolutions such as replacing cold-cathode fluorescent lamps with energy-saving LED chips as a light source.

More importantly, panel makers were converting their production methods to oxide technology and producing panels in sixth or eighth-generation factories for tablets instead of for televisions, resulting in decreased capacity for TV panels in the long run, NPD DisplaySearch said.

However, the prices for LCD panels used in notebook computers slipped 2 percent in the second half of this month compare with the first half, as laptop demand stagnated ahead of next month’s launch of new models powered by Microsoft Corp’s Windows 8 system, NPD DisplaySearch said.

Of the different types of panels, prices for 14-inch notebook computer panels fell the most, 2 percent, or US$1, to US$42 in the second half of this month from the first half, according to NPD DisplaySearch’s statistics.

Order visibility for notebook PC panels is expected to be good by end of next month, driven by back-to-school demand, the researcher added. Demand might not as strong as before, but would be enough to buoy panel prices, it said.

NPD DisplaySearch expected prices for notebook computer panels to drop at a rate slower than the US$0.5 per unit a month seen in the past two months.

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