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Distributor Flat Panel TV Inventories Rose In Jan.

Menlo Park, Calif. — North American distributors’ inventories of consumer flat panel televisions rose 68 percent in January over December’s levels according to a new report from Pacific Media Associates.

The Flat Panel Display Distributor Tracking Service report, based on a sample of distributors, also showed that distributor sales of HDTVs fell 37 percent.

“These results are in sharp contrast with the 2007 results,” said Rosemary Abowd, Pacific Media VP in a release. Abowd said that January 2007 saw an 18 percent increase in unit sales over December 2006 and that inventory declined seven percent over that period. “This year’s results run in the opposite direction,” she said.

According to the report, the most significant inventory buildup was in the 30-inch to 34-inch range where inventories were said to have more than tripled in January, in spite of a 55 percent increase in sales.

“Distributors were able to move considerably more of these products in January than in December, but far more units had been ordered than could be sold,” said Abowd. “It appears that many of the consumers who were the targets for these products kept their money in their pockets. Higher food and energy prices, tighter credit, and uncertainly about jobs and the economy were likely the main factors.”

Abowd also said that the market research firm saw some evidence that January distributor inventory levels “were boosted by manufacturers handing off stocks that they had failed to sell directly to major retailers during the holiday buying season. These remaindered units will likely push the street price down for this segment in the coming months.”

Finally, the group reported that based on unit sales of consumer HDTVs by distributors in January, Sony took the lead in unit market share with 35 percent, followed by Viewsonic which had 21 percent unit market share.