Liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel makers are expected to hike their prices for certain PC and TV panels by an additional 2 percent to 3 percent in the first half of this month because nascent recovery has provided leeway for money-losing panel suppliers to increase prices to around the cost level, Taipei-based market researcher WitsView said.
Panel suppliers reduced production to stem constant losses during the industry’s severe downturn. This started in the second half of last year after demand and prices plunged because the global economic recession curtailed electronics demand and worsened oversupply, the researcher said.
“We think demand hit the bottom in January and is coming back gradually, helped by new demand in emerging markets such as China and better-than-expected sales in the US and Europe in the first quarter,” WitsView said in its initial survey issued last week.
Beginning in February, demand for restocking inventory and new demand for ultra-slim panels with LED-backlight (light-emitting diode) used in notebook computers gradually began to emerge, the research house said, adding that some electronics makers also raised their overly cautious business targets for this year that had been set during the economic slowdown.
On April 23, Chen Lai-juh (陳來助), the president of AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world’s third-biggest panel supplier, told investors that “the worst period is over and sales will increase month by month in the remaining months of the year.”
Shipments of monitor and TV panels grew 2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of the year, bucking the industry’s downtrend, WitsView said.
Taking advantage of this early revival, panel makers may adjust panel prices upward to a more reasonable level as they aim to shrink losses caused by trading below cost level, WitsView said.
“We hope [the price] will be above cost level in the second quarter,” said Wang Jyh-chau (王志超), the new president of the nation’s second-largest panel maker, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子).
WitsView said that panel makers may hike prices for PC and TV panels by 2 percent to 3 percent in the first half of this month from the second half of last month. It did not provide comparative figures.
Another market researcher DisplaySearch, based in Austin, Texas, projected that prices for 19-inch panels would rise by about 1.5 percent to US$66 per unit in the second half of this month from US$65 in the first half, while TV panel prices would hold steady.
Chi Mei and bigger rival AU Optronics forecast prices for PC and TV screens may rebound by 5 percent to 7 percent quarter-on-quarter in the April-June period as demand bounces back.
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