South Korean display equipment maker Hims is aiming to reduce its reliance on OLED equipment this year from sales in new areas.
Hims CEO JH Kim said at its shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday that the company has been preparing to enter the semiconductor equipment and software businesses for the past two to three years.
These new areas will start contributing sales as early as this year or next year, Kim said.
Hims currently rely on OLED equipment for up to 90% of its sales. In 2017, thanks to its major customer Samsung Display investing on its A3 production line dedicated to Apple, Hims recorded 91.4 billion won in sales and 15.6 billion won in operating income.
But in 2018, Samsung Display drastically reduced its spending on facilities, which caused Hims to see its sales decline 60% compared to the previous year. It also turned to an operating loss in the same year.
In 2020, thanks to Samsung Display’s spending on quantum-dot (QD)-OLED panels, Hims saw its sales increase 24.9%. OLED equipment contributed 93.8 billion won in sales to the Korean display equipment maker, accounting for 88.3% of its total 106.2 billion won sale in that year.
Kim said the company recorded its all time highest sales in 2020 thanks to winning major orders from customers. From December 2019 to January 2020, Hims won orders from Samsung Display, CSOT and Tianma, worth 23.1 billion won, 12 billion won and 16.3 billion won, respectively.
Hims is an exclusive supplier of mask stretcher to Samsung Display. The stretchers are used to stretch the fine metal mask and open masks flat during the OLED deposition process.
Kim warned that demand for display equipment this year is concerning compared to 2020 as its customer’s spending plans are uncertain. However, demand for OLED is expected to continue, he said, and as long as the company overcomes uncertainties this year it will be able to secure new opportunities.
Samsung Display is expected to spend more on its OLED lines due to orders from Apple. The Korean display maker is also converting some of the OLED lines into those for low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistors (TFT), which lowers production capacity of its existing facilities that will likely spur the company to build more factory lines.
However, Chinese panel companies are likely to spend conservatively this year compared to before to focus on improving their yield rates rather than expanding facilities.
Hims' remaining order has dropped at the tail end of 2020 to 14.5 billion won from 64 billion won in 2019. Hims is competing with Hansong Neotech and KPS in orders for mask from China.