Report: LCD prices drop sharply

Chicago (IL) - DisplaySearch believes that prices for LCDs will drops faster than initially expected. Despite strong LCD TV shipments, inventories were growing in the first quarter of this year, the market research firm said Friday.

TVs are the driving force behind LCD displays with a year-over-year (Y/Y) growth of 124 percent to 1.4 million units in the first quarter of this year. While sales were down 11 percent sequentially, DisplaySearch believes that shipments have grown 35 percent in the second quarter (159 percent Y/Y).

Sharp contiues to dominate the segment with a market share of 26.5 percent abd leading six of nine LCD categories: 10" 14", 15" 16", 20" 21", 22" 24", 28" 32" and 33" 37". Sony led in the 17" 19" and 40"+, and JVC led in the 26" 27" categories.

The 20" and larger market accounted for 53% of Q1'04 LCD TV shipments, up from 51% in Q4'03 and from 38% in Q1'03. The 26" and larger market reached 21%, up from 20% in Q4'03 and from 7% in Q1'03. All categories below 20" lost share due to panel suppliers increasing their focus on larger sizes, while in times of allocation and seasonal movement away from the more price-oriented holiday business, according to the report.

The researchers also said that prices for monitors are likely to continue to drop quickly, since manufacturers face rising inventories. The average price for a LCD monitor will fall from $302 in May by almost seven percent to $282 by December of this year.

Many manufacturers also feel pressure from consumners to drop prices especially for LCD TVs. "Demand for LCD TVs may not rise until prices fall much lower than current levels," said Park Hyung-ryul, who helps manage the equivalent of US$1 billion at KTB Asset Management Co in Seoul, in a story publsihed on the web site of Bloomberg. Sharpest price drops are expected for the popular 40" class of LCD TVs, which should carry retail prices of $1000 to $1500 within the next 12 months, according to industry sources.