AU Optronics (AUO, 友達光電) yesterday said its net loss narrowed to NT$13.17 billion (US$477.96 million) last quarter on production adjustments and cost control, but warned that shipments could fall in the first quarter because of slack demand.
The Hsinchu-based company suffered NT$4.3 billion in asset impairment losses and roughly NT$3.3 billion in anti-trust-related charges last quarter. However, net loss for the quarter shrank from losses of NT$16.48 billion a quarter ago and NT$20.99 billion a year earlier, the company told an investors’ conference.
Net loss at the company’s solar energy operations also narrowed to NT$1.7 billion last quarter from NT$2.8 billion in the third quarter, the company said.
For the whole of last year, AU Optronics, the nation’s second-largest LCD panel maker, saw its net loss drop to NT$55.91 billion, compared with a net loss of NT$61.45 billion a year ago, company data showed.
To improve profitability, the company plans to increase production of TV panels and focus on larger models, AU Optronics chief financial officer Andy Yang (楊本豫) said.
Television panels will continue to be the major profit driver this year, with shipments of ultra-high-definition 4K (3840x2160) TV panels expected to grow significantly from last year, Yang said.
Sales of TV panels accounted for 50 percent of AU Optronics’ total revenue last quarter, up from 46 percent a quarter ago and 42 percent one year earlier, the company said.
Sales of panels over 40 inches in size accounted for 29 percent of the company’s total revenue, compared with 25 percent in the prior quarter and 18 percent for the same period of 2011, the company said.
Overall, AU Optronics’ large-panel shipments reached about 31 million units last quarter, down 6.7 percent from the third quarter, while its shipments of small and medium-sized panels dropped 10.8 percent sequentially to 37.6 million units.
For this quarter, AU Optronics president Paul Peng (彭雙浪) said he expected sales last month and this month to be low because of seasonally weak demand and fewer working days.
However, sales are likely to pick up next month because of customer restocking ahead of the long holiday in China in May and new phone launches next month, he added.
The company expects to secure a bigger share of the small and medium-sized panel market, with more top-tier brands added to its customer base. It also expects sharper growth in its mobile PC panel business this year following shipments to the world’s top five tablet computer vendors, Yang said.
“2013 will be a new start for us,” he said, stopping short of saying whether the company would turn a profit this year.
AU Optronics shares rose 1.8 percent to NT$11.30 yesterday, outperforming the TAIEX, which rose 0.25 percent. Over the past 12 months, the shares have dropped 32.34 percent, lagging behind the TAIEX’s 2.84 percent gain.