The stay-at-home economy generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in persistent demand for IT products such as monitors, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, the shortage of monitor panels has been increasingly severe since non-IT panels have been occupying most of manufacturers’ production capacities, while foundries’ wafer capacities dedicated to IC products have also become increasingly strained. Furthermore, Samsung Display (SDC) is set to shutter its panel manufacturing operations within 2021, during which its monitor panel market share is expected to drop to 1% from last year’s 12%, and as the ownership of CEC Panda’s Gen 8.5 production line transfers to BOE, other panel suppliers are likely to benefit from these events.
Looking ahead to the activities of various panel suppliers throughout 2021, TrendForce analyst Anita Wang indicates that CSOT will be the main beneficiary of SDC’s exodus from the panel manufacturing business. By acquiring SDC’s Suzhou-based Gen 8.5 production line, maintaining its capacity expansion efforts, and taking additional orders for curved VA panels this year, CSOT is likely to double its monitor panel shipment in 2021 compared to the previous year.
HKC, on the other hand, is currently preparing to enter the monitor panel market. Not only does HKC have sufficient production capacity for VA, IPS, and TN products, but the company is also primarily focused on offering open cell panels, meaning HKC’s business model coincidentally complements both monitor ODMs and Korean monitor brands, which primarily manufacture their products in-house. Should HKC’s mass production schedule proceed as planned, its monitor panel shipment for 2021 may exceed 10 million units. Nonetheless, in spite of the massive planned increase in panel production by both CSOT and HKC, the shortage of IC components remains a major bottleneck constraining the two companies’ shipment this year.
Thanks to the acquisition of CEC Panda’s Gen 8.5 production line, as well as BOE’s existing panel capacity, BOE, the largest monitor panel supplier in the world by shipment, is expected to raise its market share from 26% in 2020 to 31% in 2021, thereby widening its lead over second-ranked LGD. Going forward, BOE will attempt to maximize its competitive advantage in the industry by fully integrating and optimizing the Gen 8.5 production line it acquired from CEC Panda.
Apart from efforts by CSOT and HKC to increase their respective panel supplies, SDC is also planning to extend its panel manufacturing operations. In 2021, SDC is expected to produce about 1.1 million units of panels, all of which will be supplied to the other Samsung subsidiaries. Similarly, LGD will increase its production capacity for monitor panels in response to increased profits from these panels, along with the fact that its clients have been redirecting their orders for IPS panels from SDC to LGD. LGD is expected to revise up its targeted shipment of monitor panels for 2021 to 38 million units, although the power outage at NEG’s glass fab at the end of 2020 may cause LGD to defer its scheduled capacity expansion plans in 1Q21.
AUO is currently focused on increasing its production capacity for curved panels owing to high demand from monitor brands. AUO’s market share in this product category is expected to close in on 50% this year. Likewise, the company is expected to raise the market share of its monitor panels to 18% because demand for gaming monitors and curved monitors has been strong, and because AUO is expected to invest more resources in monitor production. Finally, Innolux (INX) will focus on improving the product structure of its monitor panel offerings this year, while increasing the per-area price of its panels. Hence, Innolux has been making an aggressive push to raise the allocation of large-sized, IPS, and gaming products within its overall product shipment.