American manufacturers Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. substantially increased their orders for notebook panel displays in February to meet upcoming shipment targets, which helped to boost overall notebook panel shipments the same month, according to an IHS LCD Shipment Database report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Global shipments in February of notebook panel displays amounted to 14.0 million units, up 7 percent from 13.1 million in January. Growth, while slight, represented a turnaround from the decline in January after shipments fell from nearly 19.1 million units in December. The decrease had been in line with the traditional slowdown that occurs at the start of every year after the busy holiday season.
In signs, however, that show normal activity is resuming for the notebook panel market, shipments are expected to continue their climb in March to 17.1 million.
After adjusting inventories in January, some notebook brands increased purchases in February, leading to the slight bump in shipments. Among key notebook panel buyers, Texas-based Dell logged the largest increase in monthly orders, up a notable 60 percent to 1.9 million notebook panels. California-based HP was next after Dell, with notebook panel purchasing up 19 percent for an even bigger total that exceeded that of Dell, at 2.2 million units overall.
Both companies had carried out the panel procurements in anticipation of meeting their quarterly targets in April, with the panels ordered in February most likely utilized in notebooks earmarked for selling in April or later. A large amount of panels remain destined for the non-touch notebook space because of the high cost of touch screens, but touch-screen-enabled panels will gradually figure into the mix among panel manufacturers.
LG Display was the winning vendor in February with total shipments to client buyers hitting 4.8 million units, up 27 percent for the month. LG's biggest clients were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple and Toshiba, but Asus of Taiwan had the largest increase in orders given its extraordinary 529 percent spike for the month.
In second place among notebook vendors after LG Display was AU Optronics of Taiwan, shipping 3.0 million units. AUO does not concentrate on any one single client, which puts the manufacturer in a good position for risk diversification and allowed it to maintain notebook panel shipments in the 3 million range despite a slow season. AUO's biggest client was fellow Taiwanese manufacturer Acer, followed by Dell, Samsung and Lenovo.
The No. 3 notebook panel vendor was Samsung Display Co., which shipped 2.7 million units. HP was Samsung's biggest buyer during the period, but Toshiba, Lenovo, Dell and Apple were also important clients.
Rounding out the Top 5 among notebook panel vendors were Innolux of Taiwan, in fourth place after shipping 2.1 million units; and BOE Optoelectronics Technology of China, in fifth with 878,000 units. Innolux suffered slow demand in the face of a decline in orders from Samsung and Acer, two of its bigger customers. BOE did much better, enjoying an increase thanks to added purchases from Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung.
The remaining notebook panel suppliers of note in February included InfoVision Optoelectronics of China, Chunghwa Picture Tubes of Taiwan and HannStar Display of Taiwan. In the case of HannStar, all of its notebook clients except for Asus are now Tier 2 brands.
Encouraging as the recovery might be of notebook panel shipments in February and March, the ramp-up does not signify a broader quickening of the overall PC market, which remains sluggish for the time being.