LG Display says market hit bottom, focus on mobiles

SEOUL Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:51pm EST

A man stands near LG Electronics' flat-screen television sets displayed for sale at a shop in Seoul, January 9, 2009. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

A man stands near LG Electronics' flat-screen television sets displayed for sale at a shop in Seoul, January 9, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won

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SEOUL (Reuters) - The liquid crystal display (LCD) industry has hit a bottom and TV panel prices are expected to recover in coming months on solid demand for small-sized flat screen TVs, the head of LG Display Co Ltd said.

Chief executive Kwon Young-soo also said high-end mobile display would be the new focus of the world's second-biggest LCD maker, which now mostly produces TVs, computer monitors and notebook panels.

South Korea-based LG Display reported on Friday its worst-ever quarterly loss, hit by $400 million U.S. price-fixing fines and falling screen prices.

LCD makers are likely to suffer further losses in the first half of 2009 as consumer demand for electronics declines rapidly on the deepening global downturn, analysts said.

But Kwon said prices were expected to recover soon.

"The good news is that we've reached a bottom," he told reporters at a news conference late on Friday for release on Sunday.

"TV panel prices will likely stop the downward trend and recover," Kwon said, adding demand is healthy for low-priced, small-size LCD sets that replace cathode ray tube models.

"Consumers are finding a flat-screen TV is worth the money if there were ever to spend on electronics goods, rather than, say, home appliances."

LG Display also said on Friday it would invest 577 billion won ($427 million) to build a new production line designed to produce premium LCD screens for mobile devices.

The new line, which uses LTPS (low temperature polysilicon) technology that produces higher-quality pictures, would help the company secure its foothold in the growing market for display for smartphones, Kwon said.

Key players in the mobile display market include Japan's Sharp Corp and South Korea's Samsung Mobile Display, formerly a part of Samsung SDI Co.

Meanwhile, Kwon expected LG Display to maintain its client base in the key China market despite Taiwanese rivals' move to increase their shares.

Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp and Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp said on Friday they had signed strategic supply deals with Chinese TV makers.

(Reporting by Rhee So-eui; Editing by Kazunori Takada)

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