Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - Page 13 News List

China demand may ease LCD TV panel glut

TOUCH PANELS:Prices of touch screens for laptops have to decline further to trigger demand and raise the penetration rate, NPD DisplaySearch said

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

An LCD panel supply glut is expected to ease this quarter as TV makers start building inventory in preparation for China’s annual shopping holiday season in October, US market researcher NPD DisplaySearch said yesterday.

Sales of LCD TV panels have been sluggish amid excessive inventory and slackening demand after the Chinese government canceled its TV purchase subsidy program in May, NPD DisplaySearch Greater China region vice president David Hsieh (謝勤益) told reporters on the sideline of a touch panel industry forum organized by the research firm.

Chinese holiday demand should help stabilize panel prices in the short term, Hsieh said.

“The seasonal demand is still there, in the third quarter, even though it might not be as strong as before,” Hsieh said, adding that the inventory correction would be brief.

“The fourth quarter should be even better than the third quarter because of seasonal demand,” Hsieh said.

LCD supply is expected to exceed demand by 10 percent this quarter and to improve to 5 percent next quarter, the market researcher forecast.

The researcher was optimistic about next year, forecasting that demand would grow by 10 percent annually, outpacing a 5 percent annual growth in supply.

Separately, the research firm cut its forecast for the penetration rate of touch screens used in notebook computers to 15 percent, from the 18 percent it estimated early this year, because of high costs.

“For consumers, touch feature is still a nice-to-have function, rather than a must-have,” said Calvin Hsieh (謝忠利), the firm’s touch panel industry analyst. “It will need a lower-priced touch solution to trigger demand.”

To spur demand, manufacturers need to reduce the cost for a touch panel for mainstream 13-inch or 14-inch notebooks to US$25 per unit, from the current US$30, he said.

Local PC maker Acer Inc (宏碁) has cut its forecast for the touch-enabled notebook penetration rate to 20 percent for this year, from its prior forecast of 30 percent, because of tepid demand.

In related news, HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶), which makes flat panels for handsets and tablets, yesterday reported that its net profit last quarter reached NT$2.52 billion (US$83.9 million), almost doubling from the first quarter’s NT$1.32 billion.

Gross margin jumped to 37 percent last quarter, from 27 percent the previous quarter, HannStar said.

The company’s margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also soared to 35 percent from 26 percent, surpassing bigger rivals Innolux Corp’s (群創光電) 25.3 percent and AU Optronics Corp’s (友達光電) 19 percent.

In contrast, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) reported that its losses widened to NT$3.34 billion last quarter due to NT$2.1 billion in asset impairment. The company posted a loss of NT$2 billion in the first quarter.

Operating loss improved to NT$283 million last quarter from NT$1.05 billion in the first quarter, the company said.

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