Amid a decline in consumer electronics demand triggering a collapse in the LED backlight supply chain, Taiwan-based Advanced Optoelectronic Technology (AOT) is navigating challenges by diversifying into Mini LED automotive backlights. With in-vehicle displays contributing 10% of revenue for the first time and poised for higher double digits in 2024, AOT's strategic shift is enhancing operational and profit performance.
With the conclusion of the strikes at US automotive plants, the shipment visibility of LED manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2023 regarding automotive products has gradually cleared up, allowing them to prepare for new vehicle launch shipments in the following year. Despite ongoing uncertainties in the overall economic environment, the industry believes that purchases in the automotive market can recover in 2024, and customers will be more active in placing orders. Although the first quarter is traditionally the slack season, it's expected to perform well due to shipment demands from US customers.
China's recent relaxation of export controls on semiconductor materials like indium and germanium, effective from November 1, has alleviated the challenges faced by LED makers such as industry player EPI LEDS Technologies. The move comes after a three-month struggle for export permits, particularly impacting the acquisition of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a crucial substrate material for epitaxial growth of four-element LED chips.
Taiwan-based materials supplier U-Best Innovative Technology has begun shipping its hard coat (HC) films to clients in China in the third quarter of 2023. As the market for foldable smartphones continues to grow, the company expects HC film orders to pick up early next year despite a slight drop in the fourth quarter of 2023; moreover, high order volumes are expected for the third quarter of 2024 as smartphone brands release new models, says U-Best general manager Huang Nan-Hau.
HannStar, a Taiwan-based mid- to small-size TFT-LCD panel manufacturer, is seeing its operating rate rebound in the fourth quarter. The company is expecting operating rate of 80–90% this quarter, from 70–80% in the third. The panel maker projects marginal growth for most end applications except for automotive uses.
Display panel manufacturer Innolux has introduced MEMS-on-glass technology to its older generation production lines, according to the company.
After the Covid pandemic eased, the gaming display market appears to have entered a period of stagnation. However, with the rise of gaming in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia categorizing gaming as a next-gen industry, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics products are expected to reap the benefits, especially with the deepening collaboration between South Korea and Saudi Arabia in recent years.
The continuing China+1 trend has seen an industrial cluster take shape in north Vietnam, with manufacturers including Hon Hai (Foxconn), Quanta, Pegatron, Wistron, and Qisda setting up facilities there. In Qisda's case, the company sees three main reasons for producing LCD monitors and projectors in North Vietnam: supply chain considerations, proximity to China, and free trade agreements (FTAs).
Recently, the focus of the South Korean panel industry has been on LG Display's (LGD) 8.5-gen factory in Guangzhou, China, as it is the only remaining liquid-crystal display (LCD) factory in the South Korean panel industry. With the market conditions changing and global supply chain restructuring, the factory's strategic value and importance are increasing. It could maintain its current operating model in the short term, possibly expanding shipments to 16 million units by 2024.
Taiwan's top two panel makers are forecasting bright prospects in 2024, with demand driven by major sports competitions, AI PCs, and Microsoft's latest operating system.
In its November 20 report on export statistics, Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) sees opportunities for an end to the 14-month-long consecutive negative growth. Order volumes for November 2023 are expected to be in the range of US$51–53 billion, with double-digit growth already present in October for display panels and optical equipment, particularly optical lenses.