Amtran upbeat on LCD TV sales

NO WORRIES::Slow US economic growth is not a concern, the company said, given its competitively priced units and a forecast shift to 3D and Internet TVs

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 12

Amtran Technology Co Ltd (瑞軒科技) expects its flat-panel TV shipments to grow 14 percent this year to 5 million units, backed by replacement demand for next-generation models and rising orders from South Korean and Chinese customers, a company executive said yesterday.

The company, a major supplier of LCD TVs for Vizio Inc of the US, said weak US economic growth would not severely affect TV demand volume. However, consumers might tighten their purse strings by picking smaller screen versions, chairman Alpha Wu (吳春發) told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of Amtran’s first 3D series in Taiwan.

Last year, Amtran shipped 4.4 million flat-panel TVs.

“Talks with our channel distributors show that demand is quite good ... I still believe the second half will be better than the first half,” Wu said.

“I am not too worried [about the US economy.] In fact, consumers tend to snap up Vizio TVs during an economic slowdown [as they become more price sensitive],” Wu said.

Vizio, the biggest TV brand in North America, sell TVs at lower prices than its global rivals, including Samsung Electronics Co and Sony Corp.

Wu said accelerating price competition in the maturing LCD TV market and the threat posed by tablet devices in the smaller-sized LCD TV market were a concern.

However, replacement demand for next-generation TVs, such as Internet-enabled TVs or 3D TVs, will help drive TV sales this year, Wu said. About 10 percent, or about 500,000 units, of its total TV shipments this year will be 3D TVs, he said.

Amtran’s 3D TVs, which are equipped with chips from MediaTek Inc (聯發科) or Broadcomm, enjoy a 30 to 50 percent price premium over standard TVs, he said.

“The high price tag was the main factor behind te slow uptake of 3D TVs in the past,” Wu said. “Now Vizio’s 3D TVs are available at affordable prices.”

A 32-inch Vizio TV featuring 3D imaging is priced at less than NT$20,000 per unit.

Amtran yesterday also launched its first own-brand LED bulbs to tap into the green energy lighting business. Vizio will soon launch its branded LED bulbs in the North America, Wu said.

LED lighting will account for only a small portion of Amtran’s overall revenues this year, he said.