Large Display

LCD Panels Fall Again in July—Portent of Ill Times to Come?

23 September 2013

The market for large-sized liquid-crystal displays (LCD) contracted in July, an ominous indicator not only because it sank for the second straight month in a row but also because the dip occurred at the start of the normally hot third quarter, according to the latest “LCD Shipments Database” report from IHS Inc., a leading global source of critical information and insight.

Global shipments of large-sized LCD panels amounted to 65.46 million units in July, down 4.5 percent from 68.56 million units in June. While the contraction was an improvement over the 5.3 percent decline from the May to June period, the July retreat reprised an unwelcome phenomenon that hadn’t been seen since the beginning of the year. Shipments last shrank for two months in a row back in January and February.

On an annual basis, the LCD panel shipments in July represented a negligible 0.1 percent increase compared to the same time last year—the smallest uptick of any month so far in 2013. July’s imperceptible gain paled next to the 22.9 percent expansion posted in January or even last month’s 4.6 percent growth, which had been the smallest increase at the time.

The depressed result in July is casting a cloud over the outlook for the rest of the third quarter, traditionally a hot time for the market marked normally by bullish back-to-school orders and lively preparations leading into the busy holiday season. But instead of focusing on the sales of new products, downstream vendors are consumed at this time with what must to be done to shift stagnant inventory. As a result, vendors everywhere are unhappily revising business targets downward.

TV, monitor and notebook use of panels down

In the four major applications where large-sized LCD panels are used, shipments in July fell in three categories—televisions, monitors and notebooks. The only area to see an increase was tablets.

For the TV panel space, shipments went down 2.7 percent because of tepid demand in both the U.S. and China markets where business was strongest. TV panel sizes 50-inches and larger were especially affected.

Even so, one area in the TV panel business proved encouraging. Ultra-high-definition panels continued to make inroads, posting their largest shipment numbers yet in July, reaching some 290,000 units for the month.

Monitor panel shipments also took a dive in July, down 2.2 percent for the month. To be sure, most panel makers have already shifted capacity to higher-demand products, such as tablets or small- and medium-sized panels for smartphones. Samsung Display, for instance, has aggressively cut its monitor panel output, even though competitors like BOE and CEC of China are working to ramp up monitor panel orders to fill the gap.

The largest contraction in July occurred in notebook panel shipments, down a steep 17.9 percent for the month. After overstocking panels in the first half, vendors are now busy trying to get rid of the inventory overhang. The only bright spot in the notebook space was in the 13.3-inch panel with pixel resolution of 2560 x 1600, thanks to the launch of Apple’s new MacBook Air. Here shipments of the panel by Samsung Display and LG Display shot up a whopping 187 percent and 448 percent, respectively, compared to levels in June.

Tablets save the day

The lone performing segment of the LCD panel market was tablets, up 6.0 percent on the month. Even though tablet orders remain sluggish in China from white-box and non-Apple vendors, demand from Apple was strong, overcoming any negative momentum and boosting numbers on the whole.

The 7.9-inch tablet panel fared particularly well, with shipments up 53 percent on the month. LG Display, the main supplier of the 7.9-inch for Apple, sent out 2 million units, a monthly increase of 81 percent.

Other new tablet sizes are also being produced, albeit in limited quantities. Tianma of China, for instance, has started production on the 8.1-inch tablet, while AUO and CPT from Taiwan are supplying the 10.4-inch tablet. Samsung is likewise actively involved, manufacturing approximately 8,000 units of the 10.2-inch tablet.

Read more >> Panel shipments decline for two straight months

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