Bright future ahead for LCDs

LG Philips LCD, the global leader in the liquid crystal display market, has seen its profits soar as users switch from CRT monitors

The LCD market is set for dramatic growth during the next few years, according to the latest metrics from manufacturers and analysts.

LG Philips LCD, which is the world's largest supplier of liquid crystal displays, announced on Tuesday that its profits tripled last year.

The group, which is a joint venture between Holland's Philips Electronics and LG Electronics of South Korea, made a profit of 1 trillion won (£474m) in 2003 compared to 289 billion won (£137m) in 2002. Sales rose by 71 percent to 6.1 trillion won (£2.9bn) during the year.

LG Philip's strong performance is just one of several pieces of evidence that the market for both LCD monitors and televisions is buoyant. While last year saw price rises due to component shortages, 2004 is tipped to be a year of plunging prices.

Market-research firm iSuppli/Stanford Resources said last week that worldwide shipments of LCD televisions surged to 1.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2003, up 23 percent from the third quarter.

The flat-panel TV market -- made up of LCD and plasma televisions -- will continue to grow in the first quarter because of increased availability, declining prices and consumer interest, iSuppli/Stanford Resources predicted.

IDC has just predicted that sales of LCD panels will increase by at least 50 percent this year to more than £20m. However, the analyst firm also warned that there could soon be a glut of products on the market as manufacturers race to increase their capacity.

This could force prices down by as much as 30 percent this year and an additional 20 percent in 2005, IDC believes.

A lack of components led to steep rises in the price of LCD monitors in 2003.

Despite this, LCD screens are increasingly becoming standard in the workplace, with firms attracted by their better display quality and smaller footprint compared to CRT monitors.

There was clear evidence of LCD's growing dominance at the CeBIT trade show last month. Sharp announced that it was ditching production of cathode-ray TVs to concentrate on LCD products.

"Originally, this step had been planned for 2007 but the dramatic development of the market has made this historic move possible," said Sharp.