Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Flat-panel firms may be safe from currency gains

MONEY MARKETS:With the recent gains in the NT dollar offset by a fast-rising South Korean won and a weak yen, analysts said local firms could benefit

Staff writer, with CNA

The impact of a rising New Taiwan dollar on local flat-panel makers could be limited in the near future as South Korea is seeing a faster pace of appreciation of its currency, analysts said on Saturday.

Samsung Electronics Co and LG Display Co of South Korea are competing with Taiwan’s Innolux Corp (群創光電) and AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) in the global flat-panel market.

On Friday, the NT dollar closed at NT$29.039 against the US dollar, the highest in almost 16 months. However, over the past month, the South Korean won has appreciated 1.86 percent against the greenback, while the NT dollar gained just 0.24 percent.

Locke Chang (張小彪), vice president of WitsView, a flat-screen market research division of Taiwan-based market information advisory firm TrendForce, said the short-term foreign exchange rate fluctuations are unlikely to hurt the nation’s screen makers badly, but said he is more concerned about long-term movements if the local currency continues to climb.

Chang said another silver lining is that the weakening Japanese yen has served as a factor in reducing the impact of a rising NT dollar because local flat-panel makers are able to take advantage of a cheaper yen by importing components from Japan.

In the past month, the Japanese yen has dropped 7.11 percent.

On Friday, the yen fell to a new low since June 2010, after newly sworn-in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government said it would spend ¥10.3 trillion yen (US$116 billion) to lift the economy.

Grand Cathay Investment Services Corp (大華投顧) said that whenever the NT dollar rises 1 percent against the US dollar, AUO’s operating profit could fall by 0.5 percent.

However, as AUO pays about 20 percent of component purchases in yen, the increase in operating costs will be capped on the back of a weaker yen, Grand Cathay said.

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