iSuppli: Large-Sized LCD Market Set for September Recovery

El Segundo, Calif. – The large-sized LCD panel market — screens that measure 10 inches diagonal or larger — is due for a recovery in September after nearly three months of plummeting profitability and severe price plunges, according to market-research firmiSuppli Corp.

"The large-sized LCD panel market has been mired in a state of severe oversupply since the start of June, due to lower-than-expected panel demand and high inventory levels throughout the supply chain," said Sweta Dash, director of LCD and projection research at iSuppli. "Conditions have worsened in August, with poor economic circumstances causing prices to decline at an even faster pace than before. However, panel production cuts, combined with the clearance of inventory and a recovery in demand from televisions, desktop PC monitors and notebook PCs are expected to shift the supply/demand equation back to balance in September. This will lead to a recovery in pricing."

After rising by 6.9% in May, global large-sized LCD panel unit shipments declined by 9.6% sequentially in June. Prices dropped by 4% to 7% for mainstream notebook, monitor and TV panels from May to June and another 3% to 15% in July, and are expected to decrease by 4% to 20% for the entire month of August, according to iSuppli.

These latest price reductions mean that large-sized panel prices now are approaching the manufacturing-cost level, especially for some television and many monitor panels, iSuppli reported. However, panel suppliers and equipment makers moved quickly this year to adjust to weakening market conditions.

"Panel suppliers began to slash their utilization rates starting in July," Dash noted. "LCD-TV and desktop PC monitor manufacturers also are starting to cut their prices in order to reduce inventories and boost end-user demand. These developments, along with recovering demand from the notebook segment, will bring stabilization to large-sized LCD panel pricing in September. Some panel prices may even increase by 1% to 3% especially those which are reaching at or below the cost levels."

On the supply side, LCD makers ramped up production of TV panels in their Gen 7, 7.5 and 8 fabs, in the first half of the year, eschewing less-efficient Gen 6 fabs. Gen 8 fabs are capable of producing large-sized panels much more efficiently than Gen 6 factories, boosting productivity throughout the industry.

This increase in production helped spur declines in average LCD-TV panel prices throughout 2008 — these have fallen by as much as 15% to 20% from the start of 2008.

LCD monitor panel prices for desktop PCs have already fallen by 20% to 25% since May. Panel suppliers reported about one to two weeks of excess monitor module inventory in July. Channel participants and brand vendors also reported two to three weeks of extra inventory in July.

Branded vendors in Europe and parts of North America have started cutting prices to reduce inventories. Because of this, orders for finished monitors began to increase in August and are expected to rise again in September.

– Staff Reports


Unidym Extends Agreement with Samsung to Integrate Carbon Nanotubes into Displays

MENLO PARK, Calif. - Unidym Inc. announced August 12 that it has entered into a second joint development agreement withSamsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to extend their collaboration to integrate carbon nanotube materials as the transparent conductive layer in display devices.

According to a Unidym press release, next generation displays are expected to require a transparent electrode material that simplifies the deposition process and that is mechanically robust to meet necessary cost, flexibility and reliability targets. The company stated that carbon nanotubes simplify the transparent conductor deposition process because they can be wet processed utilizing printing techniques, or through roll-to-roll coating processes, in contrast to the current more difficult and time-consuming vacuum sputtering deposition process required by indium tin oxide (ITO) and indium zinc oxide (IZO). Additionally, in testing, ITO and IZO materials typically used in today's transparent electrodes have shown a doubling in sheet resistance after as few as 100 bending cycles around a 9.7mm mandrel, whereas Unidym's carbon-nanotube-based electrodes show minimal degradation under the same conditions. This increased mechanical robustness of nanotubes opens new possibilities for next generation display applications.

The initial agreement was signed in 2007, and one achievement from the first year of this collaboration was the world's first public demonstration of a working prototype of a carbon-nanotube-based active-matrix electrophoretic e-paper display (EPD) at the SID's Display Week in May 2008.

"We have made significant progress inthe first year of our joint development agreement. The results of the collaboration have exceeded our expectations, and have been accomplished ahead of schedule," said Dr. Paul Drzaic, chief technical officer of Unidym and president of SID. "In this second year, we are looking to build upon these first year accomplishments, and extend the capabilities for carbon nanotubes as transparent conductors even further in various display applications."

— Staff Reports


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