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Industrial touch panel makers see earnings improving

Most Taiwan-based industrial touch panel makers are generating profits in 2020, thanks to the ever-increasing global demand for medical equipment such as ventilators in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to industry sources.

Most of them expect their businesses to remain positive in 2021 as the pace of recovery in demand for industrial-control touch panels, which was undermined by the virus-induced factory shut-downs in first-half 2020, will gain momentum in 2021, although that for medical applications may slow down.

Higgstec saw its net profit surge 37% sequentially to NT$81 million (US$2.837 million) in the third quarter of 2020. For January-September, net profit totaled NT$161 million or NT$4.06 per share.

Its gross margin improved to 39% in the third quarter, driven by the rising ratio of the medical applications to 40% of its total shipments of industrial touch panels in the quarter, the company said.

Order for medical equipment panels has remained brisk in the fourth quarter, but shipments of customized models to Japanese clients may have to defer to the first quarter of 2021 due to a lack of some key materials, the company noted.

Young Fast Optoelectronics saw its net profit surge to NT$143 million in the third quarter, up from NT$20 million a quarter earlier, thanks to an improvement of its gross margin to 28.9% in the quarter.

While the company's core optoelectronics business still stayed in the red in the third quarter, Young Fast expects the unit's performance to improve in the fourth quarter as some new backend laminating equipment will begin rolling out products for device-end applications.

The company has also seen some of its clients for industry control panels start order pull-ins for 2021.