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TFT LCD equipment spending to drop in '09

Posted: 05 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TFT LCD  panel prices  fab utilisation  panel makers 

DisplaySearch reports that 2008 spending on TFT LCD manufacturing equipment is still expected to reach historic highs. However, rapidly dropping panel prices, low fab utilisation and continued concerns about the world-wide economy will cause previously planned fab expansions to be delayed, considerably pushing down forecast 2009 spending by 21 per cent to Rs.53,038.57 crore ($10.6 billion).

"With previously ordered machines already well into assembly and shipment phases, it is difficult for panel makers to delay deliveries, which is why 2008 should still be a strong year for the equipment industry," according to DisplaySearch VP of Manufacturing Research Charles Annis.

"The 2009 equipment forecast may still be at risk. Even so, with time and slower capacity growth, demand should once again catch up to supply by the middle of 2009, causing panel makers to move forward again with expansion plans, leading to increased TFT LCD equipment spending in 2010," Annis added.

Some highlights from the Quarterly TFT LCD Supply/Demand and Capital Spending Report:

- TFT LCD array capacity is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 36 per cent from 45 lakh square meters in 2000 to over 23.7 crore square meters in 2013. Because of to the current weak environment, the amount of capacity coming on line from 2009 through 2011 is now expected to be less than previously forecast, but in the longer run, through 2013, capacity is still expected to continue growing at rates well above 10 per cent per year.

- PDP line closures continue. In Q3'08, Hitachi announced it will withdraw from PDP cell production, leaving Panasonic the last Japanese PDP manufacturer standing. PDP is still a venerable large format FPD technology. However, PDP is trending towards becoming a niche display technology with only Panasonic and Samsung continuing aggressive technology development, sales and investment strategies.

- The AMOLED market is expected to remain only a fraction of the enormous TFT LCD market throughout the forecast range, but it is growing at very high rates. The FPD industry perspective on AMOLEDs has now moved to cautiously optimistic with all top-tier LCD makers pursuing AMOLED mass-production plans. Even Sharp has joined Japan's NEDO-sponsored consortium, which has a goal to produce high-performance, low-cost 40" AMOLEDs by 2015.

- The top five TFT LCD makers—Samsung, AUO, LG Display, CMO and Sharp—are forecast to continue to invest at the highest rates, increasing their total share of capacity from 81.4 per cent in Q2'08 to 82.9 per cent in Q2'10.

- Large-area TFT LCD supply/demand remained tight from mid 2007 through Q2'08, then suffered a dramatic swing in Q3'08, with glut levels rising to a very loose 14.6 per cent. The supply/demand environment is forecast to remain loose through mid-2009, before demand catches up with supply again.

- In terms of equipment revenue by generation size, panel makers will invest 40 per cent of total spending in 2008 on Gen 8. LG Display, Samsung, AUO and CMO are all building fabs using 2200 × 2500mm substrates. Gen 8 is expected to continue to dominate spending through 2010, but by 2011, Gen 10 is forecast to become the largest generator of equipment revenues.

- Large-area TFT LCD profit margins (modelled averages for first-tier panel makers) dropped from 18% in Q2'08 to around break-even in Q3'08. Moving into Q4'08, margins are forecast to move into negative territory.

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