Prices of 15-inch TFT-LCD panels, makers' profits up in Q4

Dec 02, 2003 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Quincy, CENS
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Taipei, Dec. 2, 2003 (CENS)--The prices quoted for 15-inch thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels are expected to be raised by US$5 to US$10 per unit in January next year, and the price hike is expected to continue into the first quarter next year, according to local downstream makers.

The December TFT-LCD panel prices were just raised by all local panels makers, including AU Optronics Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. (CMO), Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPT), HannStar Display Corp. and Quanta Display Inc. The rising panel prices are expected to further boost local panel makers' profitability this year and next.

The continuous panel price hikes will make downstream manufacturers suffer. According to one downstream company, the supply of 15-inch panels is short by over 30% in Taiwan, which will make a price hike on such product inevitable in January. The maker added that whether the 17-inch panel prices would be adjusted is under intensive observation.

As the strong panel demand in Taiwan would continue at least in the coming few months, traditional sales peaks seen at the ongoing ITMonth computer show and the Chinese New Year holiday, panel makers have informed their downstream makers of a further price hike in the first quarter next year.

HannStar recently raised the December 15-inch panel price by US$10 to US$15, to US$220 for monitor-use panels and US$220 for notebook PC-use panels. As a specialized supplier of 15-inch panels, HannStar always quotes US$15 to US$20 higher than counterparts for such product.

CPT recently also raised its December 15-inch panel price by US$5 to US$8, to US$215 to US$220. The company's 17-inch panels, after the recent price hike, are priced at US$285 to US$290. A local LCD monitor maker said that the average December 17-inch panel price would be about US$290 to US$295, and the price is expected to rise to over US$300 next January.

CPT estimated that its net profit in the fourth quarter would outstrip NT$3 billion (US$88.24 million) as the non-defect ratio at the company's 4.5th-generation panel plant has risen to 90% to achieve record high production volume.

AU Optronics, the No. 1 panel maker in Taiwan and the third-largest in the world, expected to score earnings of about NT$6 billion (US$176.47 million at US$1: NT$34) in the fourth quarter and over NT$14.1 billion (US$414.71 million) this year on record high monthly revenues and shipment volumes.

CMO expects to have net earnings of NT$4 billion (US$117.65 million) in the fourth quarter with increasing shipment of higher-margin LCD TV panel models. CMO is scheduled to ship about 350,000 large-sized LCD TV panels this year, including about 250,000 panels in the fourth quarter.

HannStar is also expected to record higher-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter due to the panel price hikes, though the company hasn't increased capacity this year.

Quanta turned profitable in the third quarter and is scheduled to raise soon its financial projections for this year due to the price hikes in the fourth quarter. Quanta, however, would be the last local large-sized TFT-LCD panel maker to raise financial forecast this year.
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