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The LCD panel shortage is ending, providing optimism that prices for flat-panel monitors will begin falling later this year.

LCD panels, whose popularity has exploded, allow for thinner, lighter display units compared with traditional CRT devices. Worldwide revenue for LCD panels is expected to reach $47 billion in 2004, up 32 percent from last year, according to earlier research from iSuppli. In 2003, the worldwide LCD market rose 27.9 percent to $35.7 billion, the research firm said.

Because of higher profit margins, LCD suppliers focused on TV sets and notebook computer displays last year. But now, thanks partly to decreased demand for televisions after the holiday season, prices for large LCD panels for televisions are falling.

A reversal in the pricing trend will probably occur in the latter half of this year. A key to additional supplies is a major increase in capacity from LCD panel suppliers, which include Samsung. Suppliers are set to invest $10 billion in new equipment this year, which is 50 percent more than the greatest amount ever invested in a single year.

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