E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), the world’s biggest e-paper display supplier, yesterday posted a net profit of NT$1.09 billion (US$36.65 million) for last quarter, ending three straight quarters of losses, on the back of strong seasonal demand and a better product mix.
However, the company maintained a conservative outlook for business in the first quarter due to seasonal factors.
The net income of NT$1.09 billion in the fourth quarter of last year was an improvement from a loss of NT$223 million in the third quarter of last year.
However, it was still lower than the same period last year, when it reported a net profit of NT$1.28 billion, or NT$1.19 per share, the statement said.
“The fourth quarter is a year-end peak season for the electronics sector, which helped raise the company’s sales and profitability,” E Ink chairman Scott Liu (劉思誠) told an investors’ conference.
Gross margin stood at 21.7 percent during the October-to-December period, significantly up from the 5.8 percent recorded during July to September, reflecting improved product mix.
E Ink spokesman Eddie Chen (陳彥松) attributed the rise in gross margins to increased shipments of electronic paper displays (EPD) — E Ink’s major profit source — from the second half of last year.
However, the profit-making fourth quarter failed to help E Ink return to the black for the whole of last year, as the company still posted a net loss of NT$749 million, or a loss per share of NT$0.69, last year, the statement showed.
For the whole of last year, EPD products accounting for 55 percent of E Ink’s revenue, with LCD products responsible for the other 45 percent, Chen said.
For the business outlook in the first quarter, Chen said sales in the seasonally weak quarter may still drop from a quarter earlier.
However, on an annual basis, sales in the first quarter may show a significant increase due to deferred orders from the fourth quarter, Chen said.
These orders may further extend sales momentum in the first three months of this year, Chen added.
The company will continue to focus on innovations in the EPD sector to raise its long-term competitiveness, Chen said, adding that it may launch a new product next month.