LG.Philips LCD Co, the world's second-largest maker of liquid crystal displays used in monitors and televisions, said fourth-quarter profit plunged on a decline in panel prices.
\nNet income fell to 35 billion won (US$33.9 million), compared with profit of 544 billion won a year earlier, the Seoul-based company said in a regulatory filing yesterday. Sales at the venture between South Korea's LG Electronics Inc and Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands fell to 1.9 trillion won from 2.1 trillion won, while operating profit was about 2 billion won compared with 552 billion won a year earlier, the company said.
\nFlat-panel prices slumped last year after LG.Philips and market leader Samsung Electronics Co made record investments on new plants, causing an oversupply in the US$36 billion market.
\nEarnings may rebound this year as lower prices prompt more consumers to replace bulky glass tube TVs with ones slim enough to be hung on walls, investors including Martin Lau said.
\nFourth-quarter profit was "bad because panel prices have fallen quite a lot," said Martin Lau, who helps manage the equivalent of US$5 billion for First State Investments in Hong Kong, before the release.
\n"Prices are close to the bottom and may rise in the first half this year," he said.
\nFirst-quarter LCD prices will fall by 5 percent to 9 percent from the fourth quarter last year and the company will increase shipments 9 percent in the current quarter compared with the three months ending Dec. 31, LG.Philips said.
\nAverage prices of LCDs measuring more than 254mm diagonally fell to an average of US$195 each by December, down 29 percent from a year earlier, according to a report this month by Austin, Texas-based market researcher DisplaySearch.
\nThe researcher said sales of LCDs measuring more than 254mm diagonally would rise 50 percent to US$36 billion last year.
\nTaiwan's AU Optronics Corp (
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