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LCD panel makers post sequential falls for January revenues

LCD panel makers AU Optronics (AUO) and HannStar Display, as well as related component suppliers including Radiant Opto-Electronics, Global Lighting Technologies (GLT) and FineMat Applied Materials, all saw their consolidated revenues decrease sequentially in January 2021.

AUO's January revenues slipped 7.8% on month but surged 71.8% on year to NT$26.62 billion (US$950.71 million), and its area shipments of LCD panels for the month also dropped 7.8% sequentially.

The company estimated its area shipments for first-quarter 2021 to fall 7-9% sequentially due mainly to fewer work days and tight supply of upstream materials including glass substrates and driver ICs, but its average selling prices for the quarter are expected to grow 7-9% sequentially, driven by strong demand for TV and IT applications.

AUO noted that a recent furnace explosion at a manufacturing plant operated by the world's No. 2 glass substrate vendor AGC in the South Korean city of Gumi is estimated to cripple its production for at least six months, and shortages of the substrate used for TFT-LCD and OLED panels will widen further in the second and third quarters as result.

HannStar Display saw its January revenues shrink 3.5% on month but shoot up 124.7% on year to NT$2.481 billion. Its January shipments of medium- and small-size panels slipped 7.3% sequentially to 21.31 million pieces, and sales of large-size panels for monitors and TVs fell 21.3% sequentially to 2.37 million pieces.

HannStar's fourth-quarter 2020 revenues expanded 29% sequentially and 55% on year to NT$7.04 billion, and the company is estimated to have returned to profitability for the entire 2020, bolstered by hikes of panel quotes.

Backlight module specialist Radiant Opto-Electronics witnessed its January revenues contract 14.25% sequentially but rise 45.04% on year to NT$5.051 billion. Its shipments for the month declined 3.7% on month to 12.207 million units, including 7.027 million units for mobile devices, down 2.87% sequentially; 4.838 million units for IT applications, down 7.1%; and 342,000 units for TV and automotive applications, roughly the same as a month earlier.

Despite revenue shrinkage in January, Radiant is expected to experience a strong first-quarter 2021 thanks to persistently strong demand for notebook and tablet applications supporting the stay-at-home economy.

Radiant, now in the supply chains for iPad and Mackbook series, is expected to offer backlight modules for 14-inch and 16-inch miniLED MacBooks to be released later this year, promising further growth momentum for the company, some market observers pointed out.