Pioneer Corp, vying for leadership in the plasma-display market as it quadruples capacity, will accelerate the start of a production line by more than a month to meet demand for televisions, company president Kaneo Ito said.
Pioneer will move forward expansion for the second time in six months to remain competitive.
"We will start mass production by the end of this year at the latest," Ito said in an interview.
The earlier plan was for a January 2005, start.
Surging global demand for flat-screen televisions has forced Pioneer into a race to expand against bigger rivals such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co and Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ito in February said Tokyo-based Pioneer's purchase of NEC Corp's plasma display operations was necessary to ensure survival in the market as competition increased.
"An earlier start gives Pioneer more time to lower production costs before the following holiday shopping season," said Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Kazuharu Miura, who has a "neutral" rating on the stock. Bottom-line benefits will only be visible after the business year beginning April next year, he added.
Pioneer sold 160,000 plasma television sets under its own brand in the year to March 31, almost all that it was able to make, Ito said. The company also makes plasma monitors used in airports and stores.
Pioneer shares were unchanged ?3,180 as of 9:33am Japan time on the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday. They have risen 40 percent in the past 12 months, lagging the 57 percent rise in the Topix Electrical Machinery Index of Japanese electrical and electronic appliance makers.
The company in January raised its estimate for the industry's global plasma panel sales. For the year ending March 2006, demand is expected to rise to 3.65 million units, up 82 percent from the year ago period and up 7 percent from the initial forecast. The Summer Olympics in August and the European soccer championship in June will also help boost sales.