AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) is planning to build an advanced flat-panel plant in Taichung, aiming for commercial production by 2025, the Hsinchu-based company said on Friday, as it reported a record net profit for last year, driven by strong global demand.
AUO chief financial officer Benjamin Tseng (曾煜智) told an investors’ conference that the company’s board had approved increasing its capital expenditure budget by NT$28 billion (US$1.01 billion) this year, part of which would be allocated to the construction of the new plant.
AUO expects an overall capital expenditure of NT$45 billion this year, Tseng said.
Photo: Chen Mei-ying, Taipei Times
AUO chairman Paul Peng (彭双浪) said the company would spend more next year to install the plant’s equipment and prepare for its commercial operations by 2025.
The new plant would be in the Central Taiwan Science Park (中部科學園區) in Taichung’s Houli District (后里), Peng said.
AUO president and chief operating officer Frank Ko (柯富仁) said the plant would be a smart production site for advanced 8.5th and perhaps 8.6th-generation flat screens, as part of AUO’s efforts to set up micro-LED display production.
The company is weighing whether to use amorphous silicon technology or low-temperature polysilicon technology on the plant’s production lines, Ko said.
AUO reported a record NT$61.33 billion in net profit for last year, up 1,716.5 percent from a year earlier, with earnings per share of NT$6.44, compared with NT$0.36 in 2020.
Its consolidated sales rose 36.8 percent year-on-year to NT$370.69 billion last year, the company said.
AUO said it benefited from a booming global stay-at-home economy in the first half of last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the second half, when many countries eased movement restrictions, business activity increased, driving demand for products in the business sector, it added.
Gross margin grew to 24.5 percent, compared with 8.4 percent in 2020, AUO said.
Screen shipments rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier to 25.72 million square meters last year, the company said.
Peng said shipments of large screens dropped sharply in the second half of last year, but the decline has been showing signs of moderating, while inventory levels have reached healthy levels.
So far this year, inflationary pressure has pushed up raw material prices, creating uncertainty in the flat-panel industry, he said.
With the global electric vehicle market gaining momentum, business opportunities are growing in the industry, which might offset the weakness of the TV panel market, Peng said.
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