Elan Microelectronics Corp (義隆), which supplies touch-screen driver integrated circuits to top-tier notebook computer brands, yesterday said sales this quarter may hit a record level on increasing shipments of touchpad ICs for Chromebooks.
Driver ICs used in smartphones and tablets are also expected to help drive Elan’s sales this quarter, on the back of orders from new clients in the US and China, Elan chairman Yeh I-hau (葉儀皓) said.
“We remain upbeat about the notebook industry and forecast the penetration rate of touch-enabled notebooks will reach 20 percent this year as we observe improving sell-through of many new 2-in-1 notebook products by our clients,” Yeh told an investors’ conference in Taipei.
Sales for this quarter are estimated to grow sequentially by between 26 and 32 percent to a range of between NT$2.15 billion and NT$2.25 billion (US$71 million and US$74.3 million), with a gross margin of 46 percent and operating margin of 24 percent.
Elan started shipping touchpad ICs for notebooks running Google Inc’s Chrome operating system this month, with clients including Lenovo Group (聯想), Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc, Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩).
Total shipments of touchpad driver ICs are estimated to increase by between 10 and 20 percent this quarter from 9.48 million units last quarter because of the new Chromebook orders, the company said.
Thanks to more orders from clients that make 2-in-1 notebooks, Elan’s shipments of touch-screen driver ICs for notebooks are likely to hit 3 million units this quarter, up nearly 30 percent from 2.31 million units last quarter, the firm said.
“In terms of growth rate, touch-screen driver ICs for handsets are the ones that will outperform others this quarter and over the whole year, but not ICs related to notebooks, due to stronger market demand,” Yeh said.
Shipments of driver ICs for tablets this quarter are estimated to double from last quarter’s 378,000 units, while those for smartphones are expected to increase 40 to 60 percent from 5.39 million units last quarter, Yeh said.
Elan has been supplying driver ICs for Sony Corp’s smartphone products. The Hsinchu-based company also produces driver ICs for Dell’s tablet products and some Chinese white-box vendors, the company said.
Last quarter, Elan reported net profit of NT$295 million, down 15 percent quarter-on-quarter and 22 percent year-on-year, according to the company’s financial report.
In terms of sales, touch-related products, including touchpad ICs and touch-screen driver ICs, accounted for 59 percent of Elan’s total first-quarter sales of NT$1.7 billion, with other products, such as stylus and microcontrollers, making up the remaining 41 percent, the data showed.