April 26, 2017 / 3:41 AM / 3 months ago

LG Display books record quarterly profit on demand for large TV panels

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A man walks out of the headquarters of LG Display in Seoul, October 20, 2011.Jo Yong-Hak/Files

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's LG Display Co Ltd on Wednesday posted record quarterly profit of 1.03 trillion won ($915.08 million) in the January-March period, beating market expectations on demand for large television panels.

The world's largest liquid crystal display (LCD) maker said the result was boosted by rising prices of large-size panels, tight supply and a product mix that focused on products such as panels for ultra high-definition TVs.

But the firm, which counts Apple Inc and controlling shareholder LG Electronics Inc among its top clients, said panel prices were expected to remain flat in the second quarter.

"Panel shipments by area in the second quarter of 2017 are expected to reach a similar level as the first quarter," LG Display CFO Don Kim said.

Revenue jumped 17.9 percent from a year earlier to 7.1 trillion won. The profit beat an average forecast of 845 billion won from a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey of 24 analysts, and compared with earnings of 39.5 billion won a year earlier.

Prices for key display panel categories held steady in March, according to data from researcher IHS, partly due to steady demand for larger-sized panels for high-end televisions as well as limited capacity growth among panelmakers, as some convert existing LCD production lines for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens.

LG in January had forecast panel prices to continue rising despite weaker demand following the peak holiday season in the fourth quarter.

But some analysts are skeptical about LG's prospects in the coming quarters, partly on concerns that some TV makers will cut panel orders as high prices erode margins.

Reports that Apple will use OLED screens for its new iPhones also have raised concerns that LG will lose out on orders to rival Samsung Display, a unit of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd that controls more than 90 percent of the OLED screen market for mid-to-small sized devices such as smartphones and tablets.

LG is moving to boost its own production of OLED screens for smartphones but has so far focused on making more profitable television displays with the next-generation technology.

($1 = 1,126.0900 won)

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Michael Perry and Stephen Coates

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