Fri, Aug 16, 2013 - Page 13 News List

E-paper firm posts worst loss in 4 years

INNOVATE OR DIE:With demand for e-paper displays plunging, the firm has turned to other growth areas, including digital magazines, smart watches and luggage tags

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), which supplies e-paper displays for Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle e-reader series, yesterday reported a widening net loss of NT$1.01 billion (US$33.63 million) for last quarter because of slack demand for e-paper displays and LCD panels.

The quarterly net loss represented a deterioration from the first quarter’s net loss of NT$492 million and a net loss of NT$818 million in the second quarter of last year, the company’s financial statement showed. That also marked the worst quarterly loss in about four years.

Last quarter, E Ink also booked a one-time severance payment of NT$500 million for a 50 percent workforce layoff at its South Korean LCD manufacturing subsidiary Hydis Technologies Co. The number of Hydis employees has been halved to about 400 from between 800 or 900 before the personal adjustment, E Ink said.

Meanwhile, the Hsinchu-based company said it received a record high royalties fee at NT$400 million by licensing Hydis’ patents to Sharp, LG Display and other panel makers to make high-resolution LCD panels that are partly used in Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics patents.

E Ink was upbeat about this quarter’s prospects.

“Customers have put off their new product launches to the third quarter from the second quarter,” company chief financial officer Eddie Chen (陳彥松) told investors.

“There is enormous growth momentum to arrive in the third quarter. You will feel the [strength of] an upswing,” Chen said.

This quarter, revenue is expected to at least double last quarter’s NT$2.93 billion, as customers were scheduled to ship new e-readers for the holiday shopping season, Chen said.

E-paper displays made up about 70 percent of the company’s overall revenue last quarter, according to E Ink.

Gross margin would rise further from last quarter’s 7.1 percent and 5 percent in the first quarter, as the company would ship more higher-margin e-paper displays, Chen said.

To reduce the impact of tablets, E Ink is seeking new growth areas in developing new e-paper applications such as displays for digital magazines, smart watches, handset covers and luggage tags.

By the end of this year, e-paper for those new applications are expected to make up less than 5 percent of the company’s overall revenue, Chen said.

Overall e-reader shipments are expected to be flat at a range between 10 million and 15 million units, compared with last year, E Ink said.

E Ink shares fell 1.23 percent to NT$16.1 yesterday, underperforming the TAIEX, which was down 0.81 percent.

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