Despite Economy, LCD Panel Makers Grow Prices

Some panel makers have raised LCD monitor panel prices for January, marking an end (perhaps temporarily) of continually lower price points on the retail level.

Both LCD TV and LCD computer prices are expected to be flat this month, bringing to a halt a trend of falling prices that has occurred over the past six months, according to analyst David Hsieh of DisplaySearch. But the leveling of panel prices right now is not because of any surge in demand over the recent holiday season, but for other reasons, including the fact that panel makers are holding “capacity utilization to low levels, and some plan to cut production further in January,” said Hsieh in a new study.

Panel makers, he said, also are rejecting some orders because LCD panel prices are lower than their cash costs—what the analyst refers to as “BTTO” (Build To Tolerable Orders).

Also, because there has been a reduction in orders by retailers and wholesalers over the past six months, LCD TV and PC makers consequently have low inventories, and for some sizes (mostly large PC monitor panels) there are some shortages.

The DisplaySearch report concludes that panel makers are expecting the panel prices paid by manufacturers to rebound at least back to the cash-cost level sometime in 2009.

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