November 11, 2009

2010 to bring more shortages and price increases on CCFL LCD panels

Converge LCD Update.

Strong demand from China for TV panels led the recovery in the LCD business in early 2009. As production capacities expanded, however, most panel makers remained cautious about the market outlook in 2010. One reason is fear of surplus, particularly when sales numbers fell below expectations during China's Golden Week holidays in early October. Sony's aggressive pricing strategy and its recent collaboration with Foxconn have also created concerns among panel makers about diminishing profits for TV panels. As a result, TV panels will likely continue a downtrend in pricing in the near future.

Since LEDs found their way into many LCD panels and replaced traditional cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) as the light source, there has been an ongoing shortage of models with CCFLs. The trend has intensified, particularly on 14.1", 15.0", 15.4" and some 17.0" panels. Many of these models were discontinued in the past six to 12 months. With just a quick look at the recent demand from the service industry, it is apparent that 14.1" to 15.4" panels are in the highest demand in today's market. It is estimated that this trend will continue well into 2010. The market prices on these highly allocated sizes are expected to continue to rise due to this shortage.

The market for desktop monitor panels has been rather quiet, compared with netbooks and televisions. Pricing remains stable as neither demand nor supply has fluctuated significantly. The introduction of Windows 7, with its newly incorporated touch screen capability, is speculated to ignite a new wave of demand for desktop panels. Currently, the market impact has been modest and will likely continue to be so until more users and software makers begin to adopt Microsoft’s new operating system.

The industrial LCD market continues its calm and steady pace. There may be some short-term instability in the supply chain once the rumored merger between Canon and Hitachi takes place, but the impact is expected to be minimal as each company has a rather modest footprint in the panel industry.

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