Large-Area TFT LCD Panel Shipments Grow 5-Percent in July

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Up & Up According to the DisplaySearch Monthly TFT LCD Shipment Database, large-area TFT LCD panel shipments increased 5% M/M and 39% Y/Y to 49.2 million units, a monthly record. In step with unit shipments, revenues also increased 11% M/M and 6% Y/Y to US$5.9 billion.

LG Display On Top LG Display took 24.7% market share of unit shipments in July followed by Samsung with 23.4% and AU Optronics (AUO) with 16.8%. Based on area shipments Samsung took top honors with 26.8% share with LG Display following in second position with 25.1%. Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) edged out AUO with a 15.7% share versus 15.6%. LG Display and Samsung combine for 28.1% of unit shipments and 51.9% of area shipments.

Notebook PC LCD panel unit shipments increased 14% M/M and 36% Y/Y to 16.7 million units. Notebook PCs have increasingly gained popularity over desktop PCs thanks to increased performance matching the needs of most PC users, portability, the proliferation of WiFi hotspots as well as 3G capabilities. Netbooks have been all the rage but if you look carefully enough there are plenty of fully equipped notebook PCs with large-enough LCDs for less than US$500. With students going back to school, the great majority of those purchasing new computers will be toting brand new notebook PCs instead of desktops.

LCD Monitor panel unit shipments decreased 1% M/M but increased 26% Y/Y to 17.9 million units. I am not sure why LCD monitor demand isn’t as strong but I’m going to throw some darts. Demand from the transition from CRT- to LCD-based monitors should be declining as penetration rates increase to more than 90%. Also, LCD monitors last considerably longer than notebook PCs, so replacement demand for LCD monitors has a long cycle. Productivity enhancements from multi-monitor setups are not easily grasped. I have seen many notebook PC users with an external LCD monitor but the LCD on the notebook PC is almost always turned off. Finally, smaller LCD TVs can easily be used as a monitor replacement.

LCD TV panel unit shipments increased 3% M/M and 69% Y/Y to 13.5 million units in July. I would have expected a stronger result as panel that are just now being shipped will be integrated into LCD TV sets and then distributed through retail channels for the upcoming shopping season. There is a fairly long supply chain for LCD TV sets especially when it is distributed to retailers within a region and then put up on shelves, connected and tuned for potential customers to see.

Forecast David Hsieh, VP of DisplaySearch stated that the strong results in July “… indicates strong recovery in end-market demand and increased utilization at panel makers… Despite the price increases, OEMs and brands are building inventories for the coming holiday season.” I hope David is right. But a strong recovery in end-market demand might not be the real reason why panel shipments are increasing. I think it is the expectation that end-market demand will recovery that is driving increased panel shipments right now. He mentions it himself that OEMs and brands are stocking up inventory. That expectation might not come to fruition.

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