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DisplaySearch: Q4 PDP Shipments Down

Austin, Texas— Despite early-year advances in global plasma panel shipments, the world economic crisis caused shipments to fall in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a new study from DisplaySearch, a company of The NPD Group.

According to firm’s Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report, Plasma and LCD TV Panel Shipment Module, fourth-quarter plasma panel module shipments were down 8 percent quarter to quarter and 12 percent year to year, to 3.8 million units, which is the first year-to-year decline since the second quarter of 2007 and 2 percent lower than expected, the market research firm said.

Total plasma panel shipments for 2008 were 15.1 million, up 26 percent from 2007 and representing stronger growth than the previous year. DisplaySearch said the results virtually matched its earlier predictions.

Panasonic was the only panel maker to see year-to-year unit growth in the fourth quarter 2008, expanding its unit share to 47 percent, followed by Samsung SDI (26 percent) and LGE (20 percent).

Price erosion took a toll on revenue growth, with revenues falling 13 percent quarter to quarter and 21 percent year to year. However, 2008 annual revenues showed positive growth, at 6 percent.

Other notable developments in plasma panel shipments in the period included record growth levels in fourth-quarter 2008, capturing 25 percent of total shipments and rising to a record 960,000 units.

Panasonic remained the dominant supplier of 1080p plasma panels, accounting for 78 percent of units shipped. Samsung was the No. 2 1080p plasma panel supplier, at 12 percent unit share, DisplaySearch said.

Fifty-inch PDP shipments share fell from 29 percent, to 27 percent, in fourth quarter 2008. This was due to a share increase for 42-inch displays, which grew from 49 percent, to 53 percent, in fourth-quarter 2008 due to lower pricing, an important consideration among recession-impacted consumers.

Until the third quarter of 2008, 32-inch was an important growth category for plasma panels, DisplaySearch said, but 32-inch shipment share fell in fourth quarter 2008 due to 32-inch LCD price erosion, which eliminated a pricing advantage for 32-inch plasma panels.

Shipments of 32-inch plasma panels fell 47 percent quarter to quarter to just 260,000 units, from a peak of more than 538,000 in the first quarter of 2008, according to the report.

“The 2008 plasma panel shipment result of 15.1 million is very close to what we expected. A yearly growth rate of 26 percent also looks quite good. In addition, 1080p PDP share is increasing, led by Panasonic, and improves plasma’s competitiveness against LCD,” stated YS Chung, DisplaySearch director of display technology and materials. “However, due to the demand reduction brought about by the economic crisis and manufacturing line shut downs by each plasma panel maker, it is hard to expect optimistic results for 2009 PDP shipments. It is also hard to expect positive revenue growth in 2009 due to LCD’s price erosion and move into 50-inch-plus sizes.”

“On the other hand, major PDP makers have adopted higher luminous efficiency technology for new 2009 models, combining higher brightness with lower power consumption,” Chung said. “Greater luminous efficiency makes it possible to adopt lower voltages and lower current components, which will bring additional cost savings. These are optimistic factors for the 2009 plasma market.”

For the year 2008, the top plasma panel suppliers were Panasonic, with 36 percent unit share, and Samsung SDI, with 29 percent, followed by LGE, with 27 percent. Since Hitachi and Pioneer will withdraw from plasma module production in the first half of 2009, only three major panel makers are left in the plasma industry.

Table 1: Plasma Panel Revenue Share and Growth by Supplier