No Olympic gold for large LCDs - Embedded.com

No Olympic gold for large LCDs

LONDON — An expected boost to sales of large-sized LCD panels from an boom in the purchase of new TVs due to the Olympics failed to materialize but sales are due for a recovery in September says iSuppli Corp. providing relief after after nearly three months of plummeting profitability and precipitous price plunges.

“The large-sized LCD panel market has been mired in a state of severe oversupply since the start of June, due to lower-than-expected panel demand and high inventory levels throughout the supply chain,” said Sweta Dash, director of LCD and projection research at iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.).

“Conditions have worsened in August, with poor economic circumstances causing prices to decline at an even faster pace than before. However, panel production cuts, combined with the clearance of inventory and a recovery in demand from televisions, desktop PC monitors and notebook PCs are expected to shift the supply/demand equation back to balance in September.”

China's consumer spending on LCD-TVs was expected to be strong this year due to the impact of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. However, China suffered natural disasters in the first half of 2008 that have dampened consumer sales. In general, says iSuppli the Olympic sales pickup in China and elsewhere fell short of expectations.

LCD makers in the first half of the year shifted production of television panels away from sixth-generation fabs and into seventh- , 7.5- and eighth-generation facilities. Eighth-generation fabs are capable of producing large-sized panels much more efficiently than sixth-generation factories, boosting productivity throughout the industry.

This rising production contributed to declines in average LCD-TV panel prices throughout 2008, falling by as much as 15 to 20 percent from the start of 2008.

After rising by 6.9 percent in May, global large-sized LCD panel unit shipments declined by 9.6 percent sequentially in June. Prices dropped by 4 to 7 percent for mainstream notebook, monitor and TV panels from May to June and another 3 to 15 percent in July, and are expected to decrease by 4 to 20 percent for the entire month of August.

“Reacting to weak sales and declining profitability, panel suppliers began to slash their utilization rates starting in July,” said Dash. “LCD-TV and desktop PC monitor manufacturers also are starting to cut their prices in order to reduce inventories and boost end-user demand. These developments, along with recovering demand from the notebook segment, will bring stabilization to large-sized LCD panel pricing in September. Some panel prices may even increase by 1 to 3 percent especially those which are reaching at or below the cost levels.”

LCD monitor panel prices for desktop PCs have already fallen by 20 percent to 25 percent since May. Panel suppliers reported about one to two weeks of excess monitor module inventory in July. Channel participants and brand vendors also reported two to three weeks of extra inventory in July.

Notebook panel prices have fallen by 12 percent to 16 percent since May. Second-quarter sales for notebook PCs were lower than expected, due to the increasing cost of key components, tight supplies in some other parts such as batteries, and order adjustments made for mid-year inventory.

Notebook OEMs and original design manufacturers (ODMs) still are expecting at least 15 percent to 20 percent sequential growth in unit shipments in the third quarter, due to strong end demand.

iSuppli defines large-sized LCD panels as those having a diagonal screen dimension of 10 inches or larger.

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