Taiwan's top-5 TFT-LCD panel makers to pour NT$15 B. into R&D in 2004

Dec 24, 2003 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Quincy, CENS
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Taipei, Dec. 24, 2003 (CENS)--The top-five thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel makers in Taiwan are estimated to pour over NT$11 billion (US$322.58 million at US$1: NT$34.1) into R&D jobs this year, and the figure is expected to outstrip NT$15 billion (US$439.88 million) in 2004.

Industry sources said that the increasing R&D expenses and the expanded spending in production equipment, represented local panel makers' intention to further expand their market share.

AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), Taiwan's No. 1 and the world's No. 3 large-sized panel supplier, said that the number of its R&D staff grew 48.7% in 2002 from 2001, much higher than the 7.4% growth in the company's total employees last year. This year, AUO said, its R&D staff posted an even high increase of 58.7%. For the R&D investment amount, AUO said that it poured NT$2.2 billion (US$64.52 million) in 2002, up 20% from 2001, and over NT$3 billion (US$87.98 million) this year, up 37.4%.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. (CMO) said that it funneled over NT$1.92 billion (US$56.3 million) into R&D works this year, against the company's annual revenue of about NT$60.6 billion (US$1.78 billion). CMO, which often recorded highest R & D expenses among local counterparts, claimed that its annual R&D investment amount outstripped NT$3 billion (US$87.98 million) in the past few years.

Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPT) said that it spent about NT$2.86 billion (US$83.87 million) on R&D this year and will earmark NT$2.05 billion (US$60 million) as R & D expenses for next year.

Another two panel makers, HannStar Display Corp. and Quanta Display Inc., funneled about NT$1.7 billion and NT$1.6 billion (US$49.85 million and US$46.92 million), respectively, into R&D jobs this year.

A panel maker said that the investment amounts of local panel makers are expected to grow faster than before as most of them imported whole-plant (turn-key project) technologies and equipment from their Japanese partners to start up their panel business. Currently, the panel maker explained, all local panel suppliers are actively developing LCD TV and low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) panel products, which require intensive investment to achieve panel's faster response time, wider view angles and higher brightness etc.

The sources said that most local panel makers pour an average of 3% to 5% of their revenues into R&D works per year. If the situation does not change, the top-five panel makers in Taiwan are expected to funnel a total of over NT$15 billion (US$439.88 million) into R&D in 2004, when Taiwan's TFT-LCD panel production value is expected to grow by 50% to NT$390 billion to NT$400 billion (US$11.44 billion to US$11.73 billion).
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