Young Fast posts NT$1.31bn loss

WORST IN THREE QUARTERS::The touch sensor maker blamed severe competition in prices and said that it had been too slow to expand its customer base in China

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 14

Young Fast Optoelectronics Co (洋華光電), which counts Samsung Electronics Co as its biggest client for touch sensors, yesterday reported its biggest quarterly loss in three quarters, blaming drastic price competition and a massive one-off asset impairment.

Net losses swelled to NT$1.31 billion (US$42.8 million) in the final quarter of last year, compared with NT$299 million in loss in the third quarter, according to the company’s financial statement. Last quarter’s figure included NT$904 million in non-operating losses, primarily impairment for idle equipment.

In the same period of 2012, Young Fast made a net profit of NT$172 million.

Gross margin fell to a worse-than-expected minus-4.9 percent last quarter as factory utilization fell to about 50 percent, compared with 0.8 percent in the previous quarter. Young Fast had expected gross margin to hold steady this quarter.

For the whole of last year, Young Fast’s loss widened to NT$1.64 billion, from a loss of NT$355 million in 2012. Revenue plunged 37 percent to NT$8.27 billion from NT$13.1 billion.

“Last year, market competition intensified, but Young Fast did not react quickly enough and caused a poor financial performance,” Young Fast chairman Pai Chih-chiang (白志強) told a teleconference. “This year, Young Fast is expanding its Chinese customer base to cope with the market shift from Europe and the US. We responded too slowly to catch up with this market trend last year.”

South Korean clients are the biggest revenue source for the company, accounting for up to a 40 percent share last year.

The company said prices are stabilizing this year, compared with a 20 percent annual decline last year.

The second quarter will be better for the company, as factory utilization is picking up this month, supported by rising customer demand from China ahead of the Workers’ Day holiday in May, Pai said.

The improvement in factory usage will also help boost gross margin, the company said.

Revenue is expected to be flat this quarter, compared with the fourth quarter’s NT$1.32 billion, Pai said. Factory utilization will hold steady at about 50 percent, he said.

Young Fast said that 70 percent of its revenue came from touch sensors used in mobile phones last year, while 30 percent came from tablets.

To reduce costs, the firm last year laid off about 1,600 workers by shutting down factories in Taiwan. Now, it is making touch sensors in China and Vietnam.

Separately, flat-panel maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) yesterday posted a profit of NT$250 million, or NT$0.04 per share, for last quarter, down 88 percent from NT$470 million the previous quarter, according to the company’s financial statement.

Last year as a whole, the firm saw losses shrink to NT$4.85 billion from NT$11.3 billion in 2012, while revenue expanded 21.5 percent to NT$58.66 billion from NT$48.27 billion.

Chunghwa Picture Tubes, which makes LCD panels used in mobile devices such as handsets and tablets, said shipments soared to a record high last year of 543 million units, up 13.1 percent from a year ago.

That allowed the company to lift its global market share to 18.3 percent from 16 percent in 2012, it said.