E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), which supplies e-paper displays for Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle e-reader series, swung into profit ability last quarter, as major customers launched new-generation products and boosted business in emerging markets, a senior executive said yesterday.
The Hsinchu-based company posted NT$511 million (US$17.23 million) in net profit, or earnings per share (EPS) of NT$0.45, compared with net losses of NT$1.01 billion, or NT$1.39 in losses per share, in the preceding quarter, company data showed.
During the July-to-September period, the company's gross margin rose to 21.8 percent from 7.1 percent the previous quarter.
The company still incurred a loss of NT$228 million last quarter on an operating basis, but its non-operating operations posted NT$459 million in profit to help the company turn profitable.
Last quarter's results ended two straight quarters of net losses and E Ink is expecting quarter-on-quarter business growth this quarter, although the company's sales slid 8.56 percent last month to NT$2.03 billion, from September because of labor shortage in China, chief financial officer Eddie Chen (陳彥松) told an investors’ conference in Taipei.
“We need to hire 1,000 more workers to meet demand for the coming months,” Chen said.
He said customers are confident about the growing popularity of e-readers ahead of the Christmas season, as a survey by the US Pew Research Center showed an increase in e-reader penetration from 19 percent to 24 percent this year, with the trend likely to spread to other parts of the globe.
Customers have strengthened deployment outside North America in such markets as China, Japan, the Philippines, Italy, India and Ireland, he said.
Flexible applications, including smart watches, bag tags and view tags, will be another highlight, with Japan’s Sony Corp set to launch the world’s lightest digital e-paper device yet on Dec. 3, Chen said.
E Ink is also seeking to tap into business opportunities linked to mobile devices, as some use the devices simply to read e-mail and may switch to handsets featuring the company’s e-paper, Chen said.
“All we aim for is 1 percent of the vast segment,” he said, acknowledging that e-paper devices do not offer the interactive experiences that attract most mobile users.
During the July-to-September period, E Ink’s gross margin jumped to 21.8 percent, from 7.1 percent three months earlier, company statistics indicated.
Shares in E Ink closed down 1.79 percent to NT$13.7 yesterday on the Gretai Securities Market.
This story has been updated since first published.