Monday, August 13, 2012

Fwd: CCFL Prices Start to Rise

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From: "NPD DisplaySearch News" <>
Date: Aug 13, 2012 5:09 AM
Subject: CCFL Prices Start to Rise
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CCFL Prices Start to Rise

As published in the DisplaySearch Monitor, August 2012

By Jimmy Kim

2011 was a bad year for LED-backlit LCD TVs. In early 2011, every TV maker planned to achieve their revenue goal by increasing LED backlight penetration. But, the price gap between LED-backlit LCD TVs and CCFL-backlit LCD TVs did not decrease as much as expected. Prices for CCFL-backlit LCD TVs dropped as much as prices for LED-backlit LCD TVs. Consumers suffering from the economic crisis prefered low-cost products instead of high-end products. As a result, LED penetration was lower than expected in 2011.

Raw material costs for CCFL exploded in 2011. Rare-earth metals, the main raw material for CCFL phosphors, reached 5-10 times the price in 2010, as shown in the figure below. As a result, the price of phosphor also jumped, rising to about six times the price in 2010.

Prices for Rare Earth Metals and Phosphors for CCFL

CCFL makers knew very well that demand and price were closely related, especially for their products. If the price of CCFL rises the price gap between CCFL backlighting and LED backlighting decreases. This in turn leads to a decrease in CCFL demand (which is very sensitive to price), and eventually, there is a scale-down of CCFL production and a lower utilization rate. Makers cannot help but raise the unit price of CCFL even further to compensate for the lower utilization rate. Therefore, CCFL makers had to hold the CCFL unit price steady to avoid this chain reaction.

Most Japanese CCFL makers had already given up on CCFL business by this point. They were losing cost competitiveness because of the increasing raw material costs and yen exchange rate. Their exit gave the Korean and Chinese CCFL makers an opportunity. They faced no competition from the Japanese. Furthermore, demand for CCFL did not drop as much as expected. As a result, purchase orders for CCFL units went exclusively to Korean and Chinese makers. The large scale production enabled by the concentrated purchase orders helped them hold the CCFL unit price stable, even under the increasing raw materials cost.

During 2012, the market situation grew worse for CCFL makers. TV makers introduced new low-cost direct LED-backlit TVs for the entry TV market segment. They plan to increase their sales allocation to these new products, which will lead to a further decrease in demand for CCFL. As shown in the figure below, CCFL panel shipments are expected to decrease more than 40% Y/Y after Q2'12. In 2011, the decrease was 30% Y/Y. This means that the scale-down and lower utilization rate for CCFL production seems inevitable this year.

CCFL Panel Shipments

CCFL prices for some new models increased in Q2'12. For example, the CCFL price for a 46" model in Q1'12 was $0.92, but in Q2'12, a CCFL of the same specification was $1.2. For a new 40" model, the CCFL price increased from $0.6 to $1.1, though with some changes of specification (the lamp tube diameter changed from 3.4 phi to 4.0 phi, etc.). Regardless, there have been almost no changes in CCFL prices for running models.

The decrease in CCFL demand caused by the low-cost direct backlight TVs has led to a rise of CCFL unit price. This will probably lead to a further decrease in CCFL demand. We also expect that the EOL of CCFL-backlit LCD TVs will be accelerated.

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