DisplaySearch tracks the production of flat panel displays, and in a press release last week, the company released statistics for the LCD TV panel shipments in February. They report that 7.7 million panels shipped in February, compared with 6.9 million in January; this amounts to an 11% gain from month to month. The rest of the story, however, is that this compares with 8.1 million panels shipped in February 2008, which means this year’s numbers represent a 6% drop over the shipments a year ago. For the LCD panel market as a whole, the swings are wider: up 23% month to month but down 17% year over year. This was the first time in six months than shipments increased from month to month.
A year ago, we had not entered the worldwide recession, and companies were still building for the ever-increasing consumer demand. This led to enormous inventory surpluses and prices crashed last winter. The manufacturers have scaled way back on production, in an attempt to let some of that inventory clear the retail pipeline. These latest numbers indicate that they may have been somewhat successul at shrinking the supply surplus, and are slowing starting to ramp up production again. This likely indicates that we now will see LCD TV prices stabilize, as the supply becomes closer to the demand.