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Flat TV Supplies Healthy

Although explosive demand for flat-panel models was dampened by supply shortages last year, inventory volumes appear to be in good shape this year, analysts said.

“There is limited capacity at 52W-inches [LCD] this quarter but we understand that that situation will be rectified early in Q1 2007,” said Quixel Research principal Tamaryn Pratt.

DisplaySearch president Ross Young said that in LCD TV “inventory is pretty healthy on a world wide basis,” pointing out that “only LG.Philips LCD has a panel inventory problem, with four-weeks supply at the end of September, while everyone else has two weeks or less.”

Young said LCD panel shipments were up about 13 percent during September, which is a key month for production of holiday TV shipments.

He added that there is the potential for spot shortages in the 42W-inch LCD screen size, where pricing has been very aggressive as manufacturers seek to compete head-to-head with plasma displays.

“If there turns out to be shortages in the channel, manufacturers should be able to use air freight to cover demand,” Young said, adding that the severe product shortages in plasma and LCD big screens a year ago should not be an issue this year.

Plasma TV inventory, he said, “is a different issue. We believe capacity is quite a bit tighter. A lot of the LCD growth is going to be at 40-42W-inches, and we believe plasma is going to lose some share there, but at 50W-inches is where plasma should do really well, and we could see potential shortages.”

“Right now, based on NPD data, it is tracking at the same price range as the 40W-inch 1,080p vs. 50W-inch plasma. It is running about 4 to 1 in favor of 50W-inch plasma and I expect it to continue that way unless 1,080p can create greater price separation,” said Young.

As for 50W-inch plasma pricing around the Holidays, the $2,499 retail price point “is not very far away for 50W-inch 720p plasma,” said Young.

“Right now they are around $2,640, so that’s an easy step. But they are expecting strong demand, so I don’t know how much lower they’ll need to go in that segment.”