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Unedited press release follows:
Large-Sized LCD Panel Pricing Stabilizes in December
El Segundo, Calif., February 6, 2012 — After five straight months of steep declines, prices for large-sized liquid crystal display (LCD) panels stabilized in December 2011 because of better-than expected sales and decreased production, according to an IHS iSuppli LCD PriceTrak report from information and analysis provider IHS. (NYSE: IHS).
Global pricing for average large-sized LCD panels decreased by just 0.1 percent in December—a negligible rate of decline. This slight reduction indicates market pricing is steadying out compared to the 0.5 percent drop incurred in November and relative to the runaway 3 or 4 percent contractions regularly seen during most of the second half of last year.
The last time that panel pricing came close to December’s minimal level of decrease occurred during a two-month span during May and June 2011, when pricing retreated by 0.2 percent per month.
December’s panel price also showed the smallest month-to-month change in all of the prior 12 months, as shown in the figure attached.
The overall pricing for large-sized LCD panels reflects the average taken among the three major markets for the panels, i.e., for televisions, monitors and notebooks. Large-sized panels are defined as those having a diagonal dimension of 10.4 to 55 inches and above.
“The firming in panel prices in December can be attributed to lean inventories throughout the supply chain and to lower factory utilization rates, after suppliers were forced to cut production in order to control supply and stem financial losses,” said Sweta Dash, senior director for LCDs at IHS. “Sales also picked up in the United States and China, helping to further boost the market. Despite this, there will be little opportunity for suppliers to increase pricing even after the market has evened out, due to continuing uncertainties in the global economy. Chinese demand also is expected to decline after the Lunar New Year sales season in January, preventing prices from increasing.”
Large-sized LCD fab capacity utilization was running at 78 percent in December compared to 86 percent a year earlier. This reduced available supply, slowing the rate of price declines during the month.
Panel applications fare well
Among the individual large-sized LCD applications, prices for television panels fell 0.2 percent in December compared to a 0.6 percent contraction in November. TV panel prices, however, are expected to remain flat in the first quarter of 2012.
Global television inventories in the worldwide retail channel reached a four-to five-week low in January after robust sales during the holidays in the United States and the Lunar New Year holiday in China. This development may cause some brands to build up inventory for future months as well as to stockpile supply for new model introductions. In particular, many new TV sizes—such as 39-inch and 50-inch panels—are expected to be introduced. Brands also are exploring 60-inch-and-larger sizes for the niche market, after the sizes proved successful during holiday sales.
Overall, TV panel inventories have declined to less than 25 days, compared to their usual 30-day average. Moving forward, LCD TV panel production will be lower in the first quarter because of the Lunar New Year holidays observed in the Asian manufacturing zones where the panels are made, as well as the shorter month in February.
In comparison to the TV space, panel pricing was down 0.1 percent in December for the monitor and notebook segments, which individually had fallen 0.2 percent the month before.
For the desktop PC monitor area, corporate demand remains weak because of prevailing economic caution in the business and enterprise world. Meanwhile, mobile products like tablets, ereaders and notebooks grabbed more sales among consumers than monitors did during the recent Christmas holiday sales. Overall growth in 2012 remains uncertain for the area.
In the notebook PC segment, the October flooding in Thailand is likely to impact production into early 2012, affecting panels being purchased for notebooks in the process. As a result, brands will continue to adjust inventory and pricing in channels, given the shaky outlook here for some time to come.
Increasingly, capacity for notebook and monitor panel production is being shared with that for TV.
Also, more large-sized LCD capacity is being shifted toward tablet applications due to the success of devices like Apple Inc.’s iPad, leading to adjustments in production throughout the chain.
Learn more about this topic with the report entitled: “Large-LCD Panel Price Stabilized in December After Five Months of Decline.”
About IHS (www.ihs.com)
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information and insight in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape, including energy and power; design and supply chain; defense, risk and security; environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability; country and industry forecasting; and commodities, pricing and cost. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS employs more than 5,500 people in more than 30 countries around the world.