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価格上昇の主な要因は、FPDメーカーがQ4’23からQ1’24にかけて稼働率を抑えていることである。DSCCの Quarterly All Display Fab Utilization Report によると、LCDメーカーの稼働率はQ3'23の85％からQ4'23には76％、Q1'24には72％に低下していると見られる。LCD TFT総投入量はQ4’23に前期比11％減となり、Q1'24にはさらに前期比で5％減少すると予測される。第1四半期には旧正月休暇があり、TFT生産ラインは保守のため操業を1週間停止するのが通例だが、今年は需要環境が弱く、複数のFPDメーカーが2週間操業を停止している。
LCD TV Panel Prices Increasing in February
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Although the start of the calendar new year carried a downward trend in LCD TV panel prices, the start of the Lunar New Year carries a more optimistic sign for panel makers. The Year of the Dragon will begin with a rare inflection point in LCD TV panel prices, which are increasing in February, stopping a four-month downward trend.
The main reason for the increase has been the restraint in utilizations by panel makers in Q4’23 and Q1’24. Based on DSCC’s Quarterly All Display Fab Utilization Report, LCD makers slowed their utilization from 85% in Q3’23 to 76% in Q4’23 and an estimated 72% in Q1’24. Total LCD TFT input declined 11% Q/Q in Q4 and is expected to decline another 5% Q/Q in Q1’24. The first quarter of course includes the Lunar New Year holiday which traditionally means a one-week shutdown of TFT fabs for maintenance but this year with a weak demand environment several panel makers are taking a two-week shutdown.
Although TV demand has been weak, panel makers have been disciplined to keep their own inventory low and with low shipment numbers in Q4 the downstream inventory has been reduced. In the lean inventory environment, a supply chain disturbance can cause a reaction, and that’s exactly what happened with the war in the Middle East closing the Red Sea shipping lanes. The shipping routes between Asia and Europe became two-to-four weeks longer for a round trip around the Horn of Africa, so TV makers are trying to get deliveries earlier. The spring and summer are expected to be strong selling seasons in Europe with the Euro Cup scheduled for June and Paris Olympics in August, so TV makers want to get prepared for the selling season.
The first chart here highlights our latest TV panel price update with a forecast to April 2024, starting with the tail end of the post-pandemic price plunge which ran 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 price increases covered Q2’23 and Q3’23. Actual prices for January came in higher than our expectations, mostly holding steady compared to December instead of declining as expected. Prices for February are increasing, and the upward trend looks to continue at least until April.
LCD TV Panel Prices January 2022 – April 2024
After double-digit percentage increases on average for LCD TV panel prices in both Q2’23 and Q3’23, we saw panel prices decline in the fourth quarter by 1.9% on average, with smaller panels showing larger declines while larger panels were close to zero change Q/Q. We now expect that prices in Q1 will be nearly flat on average, with some sizes showing Q/Q declines and a few showing small Q/Q increases.
In the third quarter price increases were relatively evenly distributed, with all sizes seeing increases between 10% and 18%. The fourth quarter price changes favored larger panels; the average price for 75” panels in the fourth quarter was 0.1% higher than the Q3 average, while prices for 32” panels declined by 6% Q/Q in Q4’23. In the first quarter of 2024 we see a mixed bag with all sizes falling in a relatively small range of outcomes from -2.1% to +0.6% Q/Q.
As we look at pricing on an area basis, we are seeing a pattern characteristic of a supply constraint. The smallest TV panel size in our index, 32”, is the ‘canary in the coal mine’ of pricing in the industry. The prices for 32” panels are the first to go up with a supply constraint and are the first to go down in an oversupply. Although we have only three months of price increases in our forecast, we are seeing that pattern bear out and the premium for large screens compared to 32” is narrowing slightly.
In December 2023, 32” and 43” panels had the lowest area price at $117 and $118 per square meter, respectively, but area prices were higher for 65” ($141), 55” ($146), 75” ($156) and 49/50” ($157). The area price premium for 65” panels over 32” panels was 21% in December, but with our current forecast it is reduced to 11% in April.
Monthly Area Prices per Square Meter for LCD TV Panels, October 2016 – April 2024
Our final chart in this sequence shows our LCD TV panel price index, taking a longer view from 2015 through April 2024. The price increases in Q3’23 brought our index up to a peak of 43.4 in September 2023, an increase of 42% compared to the low of 30.5 in September 2022. The index declined to 40.7 in December, which was down 6% from the recent peak but still up 29% Y/Y and up 34% compared to the all-time low. We now expect that by April 2024 the price index will increase to 43.0, near its recent high.
LCD TV Panel Price Index January 2015 – April 2024
Of the companies that have reported Q4’23 results, the two Korean panel makers are largely unaffected by LCD TV pricing. AUO reported a larger net loss compared to Q3’23 on reduced revenues but TV accounted for only 21% of revenues. We may need to wait until Chinese panel makers issue their full annual reports in March to get a clear picture of the impact of the price declines in Q4, but the trend in Q1’24 suggests that there is hope for an improvement in profitability.
The price increases in Q1’24 need to be kept in perspective. A glance at the charts above shows that in the long down-cycle from 2017 to 2020 there were several periods with modest price increases followed by another downward trend. Restraint in utilization has allowed panel makers to generate a short-term uptick, but the industry’s capacity still far outstrips the likely demand for the foreseeable future. Panel makers will need to continue their disciplined ways to avoid another down cycle in the second half of the year.