Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Sharp jumps after starting smartphone panel output


Sharp Corp, Japan’s largest LCD maker, saw share price rise the most in almost seven weeks in Tokyo trading after saying it started making smartphone panels using the company’s latest display technology.

Shares rose 7.38 percent to close at ¥160. The company began making smartphone displays using a semiconductor technology known as IGZO this month at its plant in Tenri, central Japan, Sharp spokesman Heihachiro Ochiai said by phone yesterday.

Sharp is also in talks with Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co to supply IGZO displays, the Yomiuri Shimbun said on Saturday.

“The reports today and over the weekend are being taken positively after there was so much uncertainty over the company’s future,” Tsunenori Ohmaki, an analyst at Tachibana Securities Co in Tokyo, said by telephone. “The company wouldn’t expand the IGZO operation, as there are risks to do so, without expecting orders.”

Gaining new customers for the displays would help Sharp as the company tries to end losses at its LCD business. The Osaka-based company had projected a second straight annual net loss and sold a stake in its LCD television panel operation earlier this year to Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團) founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) to focus more on IGZO panels, which offer higher resolution while using less power than current LCDs.

Kyodo News reported earlier yesterday that Sharp was converting the Tenri plant for IGZO smartphone display production. Ochiai declined to comment on the Yomiuri report, saying it was Sharp’s policy not to publicly discuss specific clients.

The maker of Aquos televisions has been struggling to find buyers for IGZO panels designed for personal computers, a Sharp executive said last month. The company began making the panels for tablet computers, personal computers and business-use monitors in March.

“Sharp will depend on boosting sales of small and medium-sized panels to revive earnings next fiscal year,” said Yuji Fujimori, an analyst at Barclays PLC in Tokyo. “It would be positive for the stock if the company can sign contracts with HP or Dell.”

IGZO production for smartphones would help Sharp “if the company can get a significant amount of orders,” Fujimori said.

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