* Operating profit 257 bln won vs 238 bln won analyst
* Drop in TV LCD panels offsets rebound in iPhone screen
* Expects screen shipments to fall 10-15 pct in Q1 vs Q4
(Recasts, adds analyst comment, Apple-China Mobile iPhone
SEOUL, Jan 23 LG Display Co Ltd
expects a boost in first-quarter shipments to clients such as
Apple Inc to cushion the impact of a seasonal lull in
TV screen sales, after riding out a fourth quarter in which
The South Korean manufacturer, which competes with Sharp
Corp, will likely get a lift in smartphone screen sales
as Apple starts selling its iPhones this month with China Mobile
Ltd, the world's biggest carrier by subscribers.
The sister company of LG Electronics Inc
benefited from a rebound in iPhone sales during the holiday
season, though it was not enough to offset the impact of soft
sales of TV sets which bring in most of its revenue.
Operating profit at LG Display, the world's biggest maker of
liquid crystal displays, fell 56 percent on year in
October-December to 257 billion won ($241 million). That
compared with a 238 billion won mean estimate of 31 analysts
polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of LG Display, worth $11.15 billion, closed down 0.4
percent ahead of the earnings release, compared with the
benchmark index which was 1.2 percent lower.
"We expect profit in the first quarter of 2014 to decline
quarter-on-quarter due to traditional seasonal decline in panel
shipments and prices," LG Display Chief Financial Officer Don
Kim said in a statement.
The company put the decline in shipments at around 10
percent to 15 percent, and said that prices will fall but at a
"The guidance is a relief, as some had feared LG Display may
swing to a loss in the first quarter as TV panel prices continue
to fall," said IBK Securities analyst Eo Kyu-jin, who has a Buy
recommendation on LG Display stock.
"With Apple increasing iPhone sales in China and reportedly
planning wider screen products, LG Display will be able to
offset weakness in its TV panel business and keep margins steady
LG Display earns most of its revenue from TV screens, but
sluggish TV sales have thwarted efforts to raise screen prices.
LCD TVs have supplanted older technology in advanced
economies so sales have plateaued, and sales in emerging
economies such as China are primarily of cheaper, lower-margin
To counter, LG Display, like competitor Samsung Electronics
Co Ltd's Samsung Display, has been pouring funds
into next-generation technology to tempt consumers to upgrade.
That hasn't stopped LG Display's revenue from TV screens
falling to 37 percent of total revenue in October-December from
43 percent a year earlier.
On the other hand, revenue from screens for smartphones and
tablets - such as Apple's iPhone and iPad - rose to 35 percent
from 31 percent.
Apple sold a record 55 million iPhones in the fourth quarter
from 33.8 million in the third, according to analyst estimates.
But LG Display's share of the spoils has been declining as
yen-weakening policies of Japan's prime minister make the panels
of Sharp cheaper.
LG Display supplied around 23 percent of iPhone screens in
the third quarter compared with 57 percent in the second quarter
of 2012, according to brokerage E*Trade Korea.
Over the same period, Sharp's supply jumped to 40 percent
from 3 percent, the brokerage said.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing)