Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 14 News List

AUO negates slow season with better product portfolio

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

AU Optronics Corp president Paul Peng displays the company’s newest bendable curved televisions at a press conference in Taipei on Feb. 20.

Photo: Chen Mei-ying, Taipei Times

AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電), the nation’s No. 2 flat-panel maker, yesterday posted its fourth quarterly net profit in a row as better product portfolio and cost reduction helped it counter price declines in the slack season.

Net income shrank to NT$166 million (US$5.49 million) in the first three months of the year, compared with NT$1.08 billion in the final quarter of last year.

On an annual basis, the figure reversed a loss of NT$3.32 billion in the first quarter of last year.

AUO provides a bright spot in the LCD industry overshadowed by South Korean rival LG Display Co, which posted a quarterly loss of 82 billion won (US$79.4 million) last week.

“The first quarter is traditionally a slow season… We believe the first quarter will be the trough in terms of shipments,” AUO chief executive Paul Peng (彭雙浪) said at an investors’ conference.

“We hope the company’s results will improve quarter-by-quarter this year,” Peng added.

For the full year of this year, Peng gave an upbeat outlook.

He forecast supply and demand of flat panels would reach parity, given rising demand for ultra-high-definition 4K2K TVs, Long-Term-Evolution phones in China, and corporate demand for replacement notebooks.

This quarter, AUO expects shipments of TV and PC flat panels to be flat, or grow slightly from last quarter’s 29.2 million units.

While average selling prices for TV and PC panels are forecast to rise by 5 to 10 percent sequentially, as the company will ship more high-definition and bigger-size TV panels and new TVs with curved displays in China, it said.

Last quarter, average selling prices of TV and PC panels fell 4.4 percent to US$527 per square meter from US$551, the company said.

The Hsinchu-based panel maker plans to add new entry-level 42-inch and 50-inch ultra-high-definition 4K2K TV panels this quarter to existing 65-inch and 55-inch panels.

AUO aims to boost high-margin 4K2K TV panels to 15 percent of its total TV panel shipment this year.

The figure is much higher than the 6 percent 4K2K TV global penetration rate, AUO said.

The company is likely to reach full factory utilization this quarter, compared with 90 percent last quarter, AUO said.

Shipments of small and medium-sized flat panels could grow by a double-digit percentage this quarter, compared with 33.5 million units in the prior quarter, the company forecast.

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