Taiwan's shipments of small- to medium-size LCD panels dropped by a lower-than-expected 1.1% sequentially to 314 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, as AU Optronics (AUO) and Innolux managed to ramp up shipments, notably for 18:9 all-screen smartphone panels, from their 6G LTPS lines, according to Digitimes Research.
Shipments of handset-use panels by Taiwan makers increased 1.9% sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2017, driven by demand for 18:9 all-screen displays from smartphone vendors and other panels from the feature phone sector. Shipments of tablet-use panels jumped 12.4% on quarter on increased shipments to Amazon for its entry-level Kindle Fire tablet devices, offsetting the adverse impact of off-peak season effects.
Looking forward, Taiwan's shipments of small- to medium-size panels are expected to sink 14% on quarter to 270 million units in the first quarter of 2018 due largely to seasonality and decreasing panel demand from the feature phone sector.
While panel shipments for all major applications are set to decline sequentially in the first quarter, those shipped to the industry control/commercial and consumer electronics (including those for smart speaker devices) sectors will fall mildly at 7.3% and 7.5%, respectively, on quarter, compared to a steep drop of 22.8% expected for those shipped to the camera module segment. Nevertheless, shipments of tablet panels will continue to grow on a year-to-year basis thanks to demand from Amazon.
For individual companies, HannStar Display enjoyed robust shipment growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 due to strong panel demand from the feature phone and entry-level smartphone sectors. On the other hand, Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) suffered the largest sequential shipment decline in the quarter on reduced sales of feature phone panels and a delay of shipments of its 18:9 all-screen panels to the smartphone sector.
However, HannStar is expected to see its shipments decline significantly in the first quarter of 2018 due to waning demand from the feature phone market, while Innolux will be less affected by seasonality as panel demand from China's brand smartphone vendors will remain robust, according to Digitimes Research's latest quarterly report about Taiwan's small- to medium-size LCD panel sector.