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LCD TV Panel Prices Continue to Increase
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The rally in LCD TV panel prices has outlasted the second quarter and extended into the third, despite a widespread increase in supply as LCD makers increase utilization. Prices have increased enough to bring many panel makers into positive margins. The second and third quarters typically see the TV supply chain building inventory toward the big selling season in the fourth quarter. Undoubtedly, inventory is now building in the value chain, the only question is whether it is the right amount for fourth quarter demand.
The first chart here highlights our latest TV panel price update to September 2023, showing the post-pandemic price plunge from mid-2021 to summer 2022. Prices hit their all-time lows in September 2022 and increased modestly in Q4’22 and Q1’23 before larger prices increases started in April 2023. Actual prices for June came in higher than our expectation, so June and July prices are revised up compared to last month.
LCD TV Panel Prices
As the industry started its climb out of the deep hole, average prices increased only 2.9% Q/Q in Q1’23 as the industry continued to deplete excess inventory. Once that excess was gone, prices increased an average of 15.3% in the second quarter.
Panel makers may be squeezed by higher prices for components, but they may have more success than in the past at passing those cost increases to their customers. Corning announced a massive 20% price increase on its glass substrates to take effect in July, and industry sources suggest that the negative feedback is less than expected. AUO Chairman Paul Peng, quoted last month in The Taipei Times, said “The whole supply chain looks healthy now,” and replied to a question about Corning’s price hike by saying “it was an indicator that the industry was moving in a positive direction.”
Prices increased for all sizes of TV panels in Q2, but 65” panels saw the biggest increases. Those big panels saw an 11% increase M/M in April and a 9% increase M/M in May followed by another 7% increase in June. Prices for other sizes increased in the range of 2%-8% in April 3%-9% in May and 3%-8% in June. The trend for 65” prices is for increases to lessen each month, and we expect that to be the general rule in July, with prices increasing by 2%-4% M/M.
As we look at pricing on an area basis, we are seeing a normalization of the range of prices. From August 2022 through March 2023, the price for 65” TV panels was the lowest in area terms, but the increases in recent months have brought the 65” panels into the mainstream. In June 2023, area prices for most panels up to 65” fell in the range from $120 per square meter for 32” panels to $133 per square meter for 65” panel. An exception to that trend is the 49”/50” panels which increased rapidly in Q2. Those panels, which are made efficiently on Gen 8.5 fabs but not on Gen 10.5 fabs, sold for $150 per square meter in June, on par with 75” panels.
Monthly Area Prices per Square Meter for TV Panels
Prices for the largest screen sizes, 85”, remain at a premium to the smaller sizes, although that premium has been reduced compared to a year ago. In July 2022, 85” panels sold for $178 per square meter, an 80% premium over 32”. Now in July 2023 the 85” panels are selling for $171 per square meter, a 38% premium.
Our final chart in this sequence shows our LCD TV panel price index, taking a longer view from 2015 through September 2023. The price increases in June 2023 brought our index up to 40.7, an increase of 33% compared to the low of 30.5 in September 2022. The price increases in May brought price index into positive territory on a Y/Y basis for the first time since September 2021, and the Y/Y figures continue to increase in Q3 even as prices flatten out because Q3’22 was the final stages of plummeting prices.
LCD TV Panel Price Index
The larger-than-expected price increases in Q2’23 have undoubtedly been welcomed by panel makers, bringing the industry back to healthy margins as noted by Paul Peng. However, the industry’s capacity still far outstrips the likely demand for the foreseeable future, and when the industry ramps up utilization it still risks causing another price drop. We believe that in Q3 the panel supply and demand will come into balance and prices will stabilize in the second half, but changes in supply or demand could alter the balance and precipitate another round of price cuts.