Pioneer is the second-leading manufacturer of HDTV plasma displays. Last week, the company announced plans to shut down two of their manufacturing plants. The company still plans to ship 2/3 more plasma panels than they did last year, up from 380,00 per year to 640,000. Even with closing a third of their production lines and this increased volume, Pioneer will still be operating the lines at less than 60% of capacity. And producing about 160,000 fewer panels than previously targeted.
What’s happening here? On the one hand, Pioneer posted a $104 million loss in the first half of September, so some cost-cutting is clearly in order, and closing some of their older, less-efficient lines makes sense, especially if that leaves them with more than enough production capacity to meet their goals. A look at the bigger picture, however, suggests that maybe plasma is being attacked at the lower end of the size range by direct-view LCD, and at the higher end by rear-projection displays.