Prices of large LCDs for TVs have been sliding for the past 13 months. Some panel makers are now turning their attention to small and midsize displays for smartphones and tablet PCs.
Due largely to an oversupply, LCD panel prices have been falling since April 2010. From $205 per piece that month, a 32in LCD panel dropped to $140 in March 2011. Low panel prices, among other factors, stimulated flat-screen TV exports, which grew 38 percent in 2010, and global product development.
|Makena has kept prices for its LCD and LED TVs stable for the past few weeks. Its 32in models are priced from $205 to $270 each.|
But now that development in the color TV line has plateaued, demand for LCD panels has slowed and is expected to remain sluggish for the rest of the year. This is likely to exacerbate the oversupply and push LCD panel prices down over the next few months. A 32in 720p or 1080i LCD panel dropped from $135 per unit in April 25 to $120 a month later. Similarly, the 1080p version decreased from $150 to $140 per unit.
Prices fell despite May typically being a peak month for LCD panel sourcing. Quotes could still increase in June, especially since those for 18.5 and 20in widescreen LCD panels rose slightly in March. Prices of panels measuring 14in and below have not changed in recent weeks.
LCD panels account for 70 to 80 percent of a TV's cost. TV makers generally do not stock up on panels as they are expensive and prices fluctuate sharply. In the past, an inventory of 100 32in panels cost at least $14,000, which is a high investment for many suppliers. Typically, companies try to use up stocked panels within a week or month of delivery.
As demand for smartphones and tablet PCs has been rising in recent months, some panel makers are planning to shift focus from large units for TVs to smaller versions. Sharp, for instance, has stopped using its gens 8 and 10 fabs to make TV LCD panels since April. By June, Sharp announced it will be converting one of its gen 8 fabs in Japan into a line for smartphone and tablet PC panels.
But since the majority of Sharp's panel output is used in-house and by Sony, the shift in manufacturing focus has little impact on mainland China's TV manufacturers. OEM makers typically source buyer-specified brands. If none is indicated, they generally use panels made in Taiwan, where output remains high.
Further, there are about nine companies in the mainland with gen 5 fabs for 17 to 26in TFT-LCD panel production. These factories turn out at least 100,000 units monthly.
Note: This article "Oversupply, low demand push down LCD panel prices" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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