LG Display reports third quarterly loss in a row

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — LG Display Co., the world's second-largest maker of liquid crystal displays, Tuesday reported its third straight quarterly loss due to feeble demand for TVs and delays in developing new tablet panels.

The company said in a statement that it suffered a net loss of 129 billion won ($113 million) for the January-March quarter, smaller than analyst expectations for a loss of 133 billion. It had a net loss of 115 billion won a year earlier.

Display panel suppliers had one of their worst years in 2011 as an industrywide supply glut and weaker-than-expected consumer demand for TVs battered prices of TV panels. Sales of TV panels accounted for nearly half of LG Display's revenue in the latest quarter.

The company, which is a supplier to Apple Inc. and competes with bigger rival Samsung Electronics Co., said quarterly revenue increased 15.2 percent from a year earlier to 6.18 trillion won.

LG Display also reported a quarterly operating loss of 178 billion won, which was its sixth consecutive quarterly operating loss.

Delays in the development of new models resulted in a more than 4 percent decrease in overall shipments from the previous quarter, LG Display Chief Financial Officer James Jeong said at a briefing for investors. Another LG official said a temporary production failure of tablet PC panels hit the company's bottomline.

The company, however, expects a turnaround in the second quarter as TV makers are planning to increase their inventory ahead of global sports events such as the London Olympics. Oversupply will likely moderate in 2012 from the previous year as supply growth slows.

Analysts said LG Display resumed shipping panels for Apple's new iPad earlier this month.

Sales of the latest iPad, which the U.S. company touted for its improved screen and faster processor, have been strong. Apple said it sold 3 million of the new iPads in less than 4 days and such robust demand will help improve profits at its suppliers.

Shares of LG Display closed at 26,350 won ($23) on the Seoul bourse, down 0.9 percent from the previous day. Earnings was released after the market closed.

LG Display is still bracing for slowing growth in the LCD sector as the market matures.

It plans to expand investments in next-generation TV panels, called OLED, while making no new investment in existing LCD production lines, said Jeong.