FPD manufacturers face 2012 crunch before 2013 rebound

February 14, 2012 — While the flat panel display (FPD) industry faces severe challenges, long-term supply demand models show a positive future, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly FPD Supply/Demand and Capital Spending Report.

Figure. Supply/demand balance in flat panel displays (000m2/quarter). Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly FPD Supply/Demand and Capital Spending Report.

FPD capital expenditures (capex) are in decline, even when factoring in investment for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) capacity, Barclays warns, calling it a "substantial contraction in FPD capex spending." But the industry will begin to right itself, thanks to the "cyclical nature of market forces," said Charles Annis, VP of manufacturing research at NPD DisplaySearch, stating that 2012 and 2013’s capacity expansion delays will converge with increasing demand, pushing the industry upward in the long run.

Good news isn’t on the doorstep, however. The H2 2012 recovery in FPD may be "somewhat more muted" than originally expected, Barclays reports, with Samsung’s China fab investments delayed, and the magnitude of the OLED investment by the Taiwanese and Japanese panel makers still uncertain. FPD makers have lost money for the past 6 consecutive quarters, its longest down turn since the industry began. This caused an expansion freeze across nearly all liquid crystal display (LCD) TV fabs. The overall FPD equipment market will suffer a severe recession in 2012, falling 63% from 2011, DisplaySearch notes. Also read: Top 10 LCD manufacturing trends of 2012

On the demand size, lower prices are stimulating consumer spending, particularly for large (50”+) TVs, DisplaySearch reports. Prices for large-sized liquid crystal display (LCD) panels stabilized in December 2011, thanks to better-than expected sales and decreased production, according to an IHS iSuppli LCD PriceTrak report.

The net effect will be a tightening of the supply/demand balance, particularly in 2013, when the glut ratio is forecast to fall well below 10% for the first time since Q2 2010. This will set off another crystal cycle of improved panel pricing, higher profitability, and increased investment. Spending on new active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) production lines in particular will drive the FPD rebound in 2013.

Another technology, indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) LCDs, entered mass production in late 2011. Initially, IGZO will focus on LCD tablet and ultrabook display markets, but will likely see wider use in super-high-resolution large LCD TVs and some AMOLEDs. IGZO will grow continuously in the future.

The NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly FPD Supply/Demand and Capital Spending Report features in-depth analysis and critical data and detailed interpretation of market and technical trends. NPD DisplaySearch is a global market research and consulting firm specializing in the display supply chain, as well as the emerging photovoltaic/solar cell industries. Access reports at http://www.displaysearch.com/.

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