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First quarter of each year is typically a slow season for the display market as set brands try to clear out carried inventories before they launch new models in a new year. In addition, particularly this year, top-tier brands were expected to stop focusing on volume growth, which lowered market expectation on the panel demand.
However, shipments of large display panels posted better-than-expected results in the first quarter of 2018, according to Large Area Display Market Tracker by IHS Markit. Compared to a year ago, shipments of large displays -- larger than 9 inches -- increased by 6 percent in unit and by 10 percent in area.
LG Display retained its lead in the large display panel market in terms of area shipments with a stake of 22 percent, followed by Samsung Display with 17 percent, while, in terms of unit shipments, BOE led the market with a 22 percent share.
“In area shipments, South Korean panel makers keep their leading position in the large display market as they are strong in the TV display market,” said Robin Wu, principal analyst at IHS Markit.
Shipments of TV displays increased by 12 percent in unit and by 11 percent in area in the first quarter of 2018 compared to a year ago, leading to the better-than-expected trend. In particular, unit shipments of 55-inch and larger TV panels jumped 20 percent year on year in the first quarter. 4K TV display unit shipment also increased by 19 percent during the same period to 24.6 million units, and OLED TV display shipments reached some 600,000 units with 110 percent year-on-year growth.
“Increases in large display panel production capacity, particularly in China, helped the year-on-year shipment growth, which was somewhat expected,” Wu said. “But, if you look at the shipment growth in a quarter-on-quarter term, it is quite interesting.”
For the past three years from 2015 to 2017, on average, unit shipments of large display declined 10 percent in the first quarters compared to the previous quarter, and area shipments were down 8 percent.
“This year also shows declines in the first quarter with a 4 percent drop in unit shipments and 7 percent down in area shipments, but the contraction is narrower than the previous years,” Wu said. “This indicates the shipment trend in first quarter 2018 was better than expected.”
Wu noted, however, that shipments dropped 10 percent in value due to continued erosion in panel price, which began in mid- 2017.
“The major concerns to the panel makers is how to achieve a turnaround in panel prices and when,” Wu said. “Trends in TV display panels that are shifting to larger sizes and heading to higher-end products can be the key to overcome the challenge.”Wu noted, however, that shipments dropped 10 percent in value due to continued erosion in panel price, which began in mid- 2017.
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