Summer LCD shipments up a quarter on 2008

Shipments of large-sized thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels reached 47.1 million units in June, up 9 per cent from the previous month and up 26.2 per cent from the same time a year ago, according to iSuppli.

This increase represents an acceleration in the growth rate of panels for televisions, notebook computers and computer monitors from 6.9 per cent in May and 6.2 per cent in April.

“June marked the first month in 2009 that all three large-sized LCD panel applications showed year-over-year expansions in shipments,” said Sweta Dash, senior director for LCD Research at iSuppli. “With the market hitting on all cylinders, the strong demand outlook for panel purchase is expected to continue through the third quarter as brands prepare for strong sales in the upcoming Christmas season.”

The growth in the large-sized LCD segment was led mainly by rising sales of television and notebook panels with increases of 9.2 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively. This was followed by monitor panels, which climbed 8.3 per cent.

“The positive sales momentum continued in July and August as the television market prepared for Christmas, despite some inventories that built up in the retail channels,” Dash noted. “Nevertheless, there is fear that panel supply may be tight because of various factors, including the continuing glass shortage, as well as the recent earthquake in Japan that has damaged Corning’s glass tanks and impacted glass supply for Sharp’s eighth-generation fab.”

Buyers, seeing significant price increases in July, were willing to buy extra panels in quantity. Preliminary data shows that Christmas buying and fear of further panel supply tightness due to glass shortages kept panel demand positive in August. Panel demand is expected to remain strong through the third quarter of 2009.
For the entire second quarter, global large-sized LCD panel shipments were 43 per cent higher than in the first quarter and up 12 per cent from the second quarter of 2008. Factors contributing to the strong quarter included the improvement in the world economy, robust demand from the Chinese market, new model introductions, the shift to 16-by-9 format panels and the increasing use of backlights that use light emitting diodes (LEDs).

The strong growth in demand, combined with tight supply, resulted in 20 per cent to 25 per cent panel price increases for mainstream large-sized LCD panels from March to June. The rise in pricing helped panel suppliers move away from below-cost pricing and losses and toward profitability for all applications by the end of the second quarter.

Shipments of monitor panels in June reached 17.8 million units, representing a better-than-expected growth of 8.3 per cent from May and an 8.5 per cent rise from June 2008. Unit shipments of TV panels reached 13.2 million in June, rising sharply by 61.8 per cent from a year earlier and up by 9.2 per cent from the month before.

Shipments of notebook panels, including 10in displays, reached 15.3 million units in June, driven by the strong demand for consumer ultra-low voltage models.

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