Panel pricing: Up and then down

It’s hard to tell how long the downward trend will continue.

From August 2020 through July 2021, the industry experienced a large boost in pricing for LCD panels, followed by a dramatic price drop in the months following through the beginning of 2022. Since then, they have continued on this downward trend, especially for 55-inch and 65-inch offerings, albeit more slowly as the pricing inches toward the cash cost. Once it reaches that point, it’s going to cost money for the privilege of making panels, unless you are ramping up a new fab and need to get your panel making processes stabilized, according to “Panel pricing, crystal cycles and Cuckoo clocks” on Display Daily (site registration required).

Analysis of panel pricing. (Source: DSCC)

There is a balancing act in the panel industry between the panel makers and the set makers. When one is up, the other is down, and vice versa, the article states. In the same way, the TV makers (and monitor and notebook makers) and panel makers are rarely at the same level at the same time. Usually, when supply is tight, the panel makers are charging high prices, so the set makers have squeezed margins. When there is plenty of supply, as there is at the moment, the prices of panels drop and set makers can increase their margins.

With weak demand, the expectation is that there will be huge pressure on TV brands over the next year or two to decrease prices even more. It’s unclear, though, whether the price drops that are likely would be enough to spark demand in the TV segment to the point of pushing panel pricing back up. Historically, that has been the case—it’s just a matter of when.