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Recession Forces Flat Panel Production Changes

2/14/2012 11:04:15 AM Eastern

Santa Clara, Calif. - The flat-panel display industry is in for a
sustained recession in 2012 as manufacturers freeze further plant expansions
and better control output, according to a new NPD DisplaySearch quarterly flat-panel
display market report released Tuesday.

However, the firm notes that necessary supply tweaking in the
year ahead should reduce glut volumes to new lows and the industry begins to
re-position itself for next-generation technologies, that should help drive new
growth in 2013.

Some of that new display development will come from production of
large panel Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) displays,
slated to reach market this year.

DisplaySearch said the flat-panel display (FPD) industry is in
the midst of "severe challenges," as price declines for 50-inch and larger
products continue to push demand. The report says that FPD makers have lost
money for the past six quarters in a row, which marks the longest down turn
since its creation.

As a result, panel makers have now frozen almost all expansion
plans for LCD TV fabs.

The result will be a "tightening of the supply/demand balance,
particularly in 2013," which will cause the glut ratio to fall well below 10
percent for the first time since the second quarter of 2010, DisplaySearch said.

"This is expected to set off another crystal cycle of improved
panel pricing, higher profitability and increased investment," according to the
study.

"The FPD industry may soon begin to right itself through the
cyclical nature of market forces," said Charles Annis, NPD DisplaySearch
manufacturing research VP. "Delays in capacity expansion in 2012 and 2013
combined with continuously increasing demand are expected to finally start
pushing the industry towards a healthier future."

Although the overall FPD equipment market is expected to suffer a
severe recession in 2012, falling 63 percent from 2011, the market is forecast
to rebound in 2013, driven in large part by spending on new AMOLED production
lines, DisplaySearch said.

Mass production of IGZO-based LCDs, which enable super high
resolution, brighter and more efficient displays, started in Q4 2011.
Initially, IGZO will focus on LCD tablet and ultrabook display markets, but
will likely see wider use in super high resolution large LCD TVs and some
AMOLEDs, according to the report. IGZO is expected to grow continuously in the
future.

In related news, reports out of South Korea Tuesday said that
Samsung directors are considering various options to improve competitiveness in
its loss-making LCD panel business.

Several reports speculated that Samsung may be considering a
spinoff of the operation, although Samsung officials reportedly declined to
comment on that speculation.

The news follows Sony's recent decision to exit an LCD panel
joint venture it had established with Samsung. At the same time, new Chinese
LCD factories are putting further pressure on the market.

Samsung and LG also recently announced plans to introduce the
first large-screen AMOLED displays later in 2012. That technology is expected
to eventually become widespread in the consumer TV market.

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