The market for liquid-crystal display (LCD) panels for notebook PCs fell in June compared to the same month in 2012 in the face of tepid demand, and weak sales during the end to the first half do not augur well for the remaining six months of the year, according to information and analytics provider IHS.
Global shipments of LCD notebook panels in June amounted to 18.2 million units, down 13 percent from the same time last year. The latest monthly figure is the highest so far for 2013 and up 6 percent from May, but the larger context was more troubling. First-half shipments were down a substantial 18 percent from the period a year ago, and every single month this year had lower numbers than their equivalents in 2012.
Low demand accounted for the sluggish state of notebook panels during the first half. Notebook sales in general have been struggling in the face of harsh competition from smartphones and especially tablets, and ultrathin/Ultrabook sales have not panned out as hoped. The market's woes were further aggravated by the overstocking of panels by panel buyers in the first half-which means that existing inventory and old models will have to be digested for the next few months, and that flat or little growth can be expected in the short term ahead.
Major notebook brands generally are adopting a conservative approach for the third quarter. This is true even though the July to September period traditionally is considered the hot season for panel makers, in light of back-to-school requirements for buyers and the highly anticipated lead-up to holiday purchasing by consumers at the end of the year. And unlike years past, brand vendors this time have little confidence that the market will see growth in the second half.
LG Display and Lenovo top their fields
Among panel makers, LG Display continued to be the largest notebook panel supplier, accounting for 29 percent of shipments in June. Although LG lost some volume from smaller clients that cut back purchasing, a 1-million-unit order placed by Lenovo more than made up for those losses.
Taiwan's Innolux was in second place with 23 percent, boasting increased orders from Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba. Closely behind in third place with 22 percent was AUO, also from Taiwan.
For its part, Samsung Display-the No. 4 player with 17 percent market share-is reducing notebook panel production in favor of tablets. Samsung's notebook panel production was down 17 percent in June compared to May.
A notable seller during the period was Japan's Panasonic Liquid Crystal Display (PLD). Although PLD had miniscule market share among panel makers at less than 1.5 percent, its shipment of 250,000 notebook panels to main customer Sony represented an increase of more than 300 percent from the month before in May.
On the side of panel buyers, meanwhile, Lenovo was the only notebook brand to have increased its panel purchasing compared to year-ago levels, up 2 percent. The most serious decline in notebook panel buying was from Sony, down a staggering 61 percent.
Other notable brands that saw a decline in panel purchasing in June on an annual basis were Asus, down 36 percent; Samsung, down 31 percent; Acer, down 24 percent; and Apple, down 20 percent.
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