LG Display plans to nearly halve the production of its LCD panels for TVs in 2020 to switch to OLED panels in the face of falling LCD prices, according to industry source on Nov. 27.
At the same time, the sales of OLED panels for TVs are expected to take up 60% of its total TV panel sales. This year, LCD revenues were three times that of OLED panels.
LG Display’s business consists of mostly TV panels, IT panels (for monitors, tablets and laptops) and smartphone panels. In 2018, TV panels accounted for 40% of LG Display’s sales, while IT panels accounted for 36% and smartphone panels 24%. The figures changed in the third quarter of this year, with TV panels taking up 36%.
The display maker plans to maintain the supplies of IT panels, which have so far shown good profitability.
Globally, LG Display is expected to be the second-largest the maker in terms of TV LCD shipment this year, trailing China’s BOE. Next year, however, LG Display is likely to fall to fifth place, following BOE, CSOT, Innolux and HKC.
“We plan to downsize at the P7, P8 LCD TV factories in order to focus more on our strengths and streamline what’s necessary,” said LG Display CFO Seo Dong-hee at the LG unit’s recent third quarter earnings announcement. The LCD lines at the Gen-8 P8 factory in Paju is now expected to be halted.
“LG Display is estimated to ship up to 48.6 million LCD panels for TV this year, but this figure is to fall to 27 million in 2020 to show a 44% fall,” said IHS Markit in a recent report.
The research firm said including Samsung Display, South Korean display makers are expected to cut up to 36 million in terms of TV LCD panel shipments. Worldwide, the shipment volume is like to decline by 6-7%, it said.
All this is a part of LG Display’s plans to switch to OLEDs, the industry sources said. In August, the display maker completed a factory in Guangzhou for manufacturing OLED panels for TVs. LG plans to apply the Multi-model Glass (MMG) at the plant to produce different-sized panels at the same time to cut costs.
South Korea-based Joosung Engineering’s TFT CVD will be applied to MMG ahead of US-based Applied Materials, according to those close to the matter.
“With the Guanzhou plant, our annual OLED panel production capacity for TVs will go up to 4 million units this year, then to 7 million in 2020 and 10 million in 2021,” said Yoon Soo-young, head of LG Display’s Display Research Center at a lecture early this year. In the third quarter of this year, LG Display sold a total of
IHS Markit estimates OLED TV sales to reach 3.25 million units this year, and 5.5 million in 2020. In 2021, it expects 7.1 million. This year, OLED TVs sold around 1.88 million worldwide.
The lackluster sales are mostly due to the sharp fall in LCD panel prices. The best-selling 55-inch panel prices declined 30% between January and October this year.
The falling prices are also part of why LG Display is seeking to cut LCD panel production, while at the same time seeking to cut OLED production prices to make their products more attractive. The LG unit is also in talks with China’s Huawei Technologies to supply it with OLED TV panels next year.
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