Weak demand for iPads hits LG Display’s earnings

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Weak demand for iPads hits LG Display’s earnings

LG Display, the world’s second-largest maker of liquid crystal displays, yesterday reported quarterly profit trailing analyst estimates because of slowing demand for Apple iPads and a stronger won.

Net income was 319.7 billion won ($299 million) in the three months ended December, compared with the 363.4 billion won average of 22 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Fourth- quarter sales rose 15 percent to 8.7 trillion won, according to a statement released yesterday. The panel maker posted a 6 billion won loss a year earlier.

The LG Electronics affiliate suffered as consumers shunned Apple’s original iPads in favor of a new mini version that uses a smaller and less lucrative screen. A stronger won also cut the repatriated values sales from overseas as Japanese rivals benefited from a weaker yen.

Operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative costs, almost doubled to 587 billion won, compared with a loss a year earlier, LG Display said.

Shipments of screens for 9.7-inch iPads fell to 1.5 million units in November from more than 4 million in October, Daewoo Securities analyst Jonathan Hwang said in a Jan. 7 report. The company shipped 3 million of the 7.9-inch panels in November, he said. Apple unveiled the iPad mini, which uses the 7.9-inch screens, in October.

Apple yesterday reported the slowest quarterly sales growth since 2009. The company accounted for about 20 percent of LG Display’s sales last year, according to Korea Investment Trust Management analyst Yoo Jong-woo.

LG Display fell 1.2 percent to close at 28,550 won in Seoul trading before the earnings announcement, while the benchmark Kospi declined 0.8 percent. The panel maker is little changed in the past year.

The company has said it plans to focus on more-advanced panels such as 3-D units and thinner LCD screens to improve profitability. It posted four straight losses through the second quarter of last year.

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