LG Display: Business outlook worsens, but Q1 profit above estimate

BEIJING, April 17 (Yonhap) -- LG Display Co., a South Korean maker of flat-panel screens for TVs and smartphones, expects the outlook for its key business to get worse this year due to a rapid fall in panel prices, but its first-quarter earnings could beat analysts' expectations, a senior company executive said Thursday.

"Business conditions continue to get worse as prices for flat-panel screens plunge amid a supply glut," Choi Dong-won, senior vice president of LG Display, told a group of Korean correspondents in Beijing.

"But, we expect the first-quarter earnings to be slightly above the market expectations," Choi said. LG Display is scheduled to announce its first-quarter earnings next week.

In the fourth quarter of last year, LG Display reported an operating profit of 257 billion won (US$247.6 million), down 56 percent for the same period a year ago.

Like its competitors, including Samsung Electronics Co., LG Display is trying to boost its earnings by selling panels for high-end TVs such as ultra-high definition TVs, which have four times the number of pixels as high-definition TVs, and full-high definition TVs.

Despite a worsening business outlook, Choi saw a bright future for high-end TVs worldwide.

"Our target is to sell four million ultra-high definition screens this year," Choi said on the sidelines of a promotional event for the high-end TV sets in central Beijing.

"The market for ultra-high definition TVs is growing at a faster pace than we anticipated," Choi said.

LG Display aims to capture about 30 percent of the global market for ultra-high definition panels this year, Choi said, adding that the company expects demand for the high-end TV panels to increase to 12 million sheets this year.

As part of its efforts to meet the fast-growing demand for high-end TVs in China this year, LG Display recently began supplying organic light-emitting diode screens to Chinese TV makers, including Skyworth and Konka, Choi said.

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