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Apple Supplier LG Display Hints on Strong Quarter, Citing Key Client

October 26, 2016

Apple's iPhone 7 And New Apple Watch On Sale In New YorkApple's iPhone 7 And New Apple Watch On Sale In New York
People buy the new iPhone's at an Apple store in Manhattan on September 16, 2016 in New York City. Spencer Platt — Getty Images

South Korea’s LG Display on Wednesday said it expects strong fourth-quarter earnings as the Apple supplier tipped growth in shipments of medium-to-small-sized panels to a key client it would not name.

Apple on Tuesday warned of supply constraints for its new iPhones, particularly the larger iPhone 7 Plus, suggesting it may not be able to fully capitalize on rival Samsung Electronics’ decision to scrap the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

LG Display, which analysts say counts on Apple (AAPL) as its top client by revenue, did not say what devices the unnamed customer was buying the screens for.

It expected the overall revenue contribution from medium-to-small-sized panels—used for products such as smartphones—to rise during the October-to-December period from the third quarter.

“The upwards trend of panel prices is expected to continue in the fourth quarter due to the growing trends towards large-size panels,” LG Display CFO Don Kim said in a statement. “In addition, profits in the fourth quarter are anticipated to further improve significantly.”

The world’s top liquid crystal display maker said operating profit from July to September fell 3% to 323 billion won ($286.12 million), versus a Thomson Reuters StarMine SmartEstimate of 307 billion won derived from a survey of 11 analysts.

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LG narrowly avoided losses in the first two quarters of 2016 as sluggish global growth undercut demand for consumer electronics, but analysts say panel prices have been rebounding in the second half as smartphone and television makers place new orders to gear up for the year-end holiday shopping season.

While revenue contribution from devices such as smartphones would increase in the fourth quarter as clients launched new products, LG said its total shipment volume by surface area should be about the same as for the July-to-September period as total production capacity would remain similar.

The South Korean firm said third-quarter display shipments in surface area terms rose 9% from the previous quarter, while average selling prices climbed 10%.

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Data from researcher IHS shows that panel prices for products such as smartphones, televisions and monitors have been trending higher in recent months, with average prices in certain categories rising more than 10% in October from the previous month.

Revenue for the period fell 6.1% to 6.7 trillion won, compared with a Thomson Reuters StarMine SmartEstimate of 6.4 trillion won.