LG Display on Friday announced an operating loss of 1.35 trillion won ($1.1 billion) in 2019 going into the red amid business restructuring efforts.
Overall, the world’s biggest maker of organic light-emitting diode panels posted 23.5 trillion won in sales and 1.36 trillion won in operating loss last year, according to its earnings report for the final quarter of 2019.
Compared to 2018, the annual sales dropped 8 percent, while the operating profit of 92.9 billion won turned into a deficit of over 1 trillion won. The net loss expanded to 2.7 trillion won.
In the fourth quarter alone, the panel maker ended up with a 421.9 billion won operating loss, due to the ongoing business restructuring process that shifts its resources from the liquid crystal display panel business to large-size OLED and Plastic-OLED businesses.
The company said its sales rose 10 percent to 6.42 trillion won in the fourth quarter compared to three months earlier, due to an 18 percent increase in the OLED panel price per square meter.
Of the 1.82 trillion won net loss, 1.6 trillion won was a loss from impairment, a decline in its fair value. Some 1.4 trillion won worth loss incurred from its P-OLED unit, and a 200 billion won loss from pulling out from the OLED lighting market.
Panels for TVs accounted for 28% of the company's revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019, 4% down from the previous quarter due to sales decline in commodity LCD TV panels. Panels for mobile devices accounted for 36%, an 8% quarter-on-quarter increase, driven by the shipment increase of P-OLED panels for smartphones, while those for tablets and notebook PCs accounted for 20% and desktop monitors for 16% respectively.
LG Display Senior Vice President Suh Dong-hee said on an earnings call that the company predicts better opportunities in the second half this year, as it will ramp up OLED fab production from its China plant. The company, which recently became a plastic-OLED display vendor for Apple’s latest iPhones, has said it expects to kick off mass production at its China OLED factory some time in the March quarter.
The P-OLED business will also start to show better performance starting this year as the company has secured demand from the automobile and smartphone markets.
The company also announced that it has already started halting some of its domestic main production lines for its eighth-generation LCD. The company added that it will completely stop its domestic production of LCD TV by the end of this year.
“LG Display’s liability-to-equity ratio was temporarily increased in the fourth quarter due to the asset impairment, but this is expected to start to gradually improve down the road. The positive anticipation is that factoring in asset impairment this time means that uncertainty in the future is expected to be removed and possible fluctuation in the company’s future business is also expected to be reduced. In addition, depreciation costs will be reduced by KRW 300 billion each year in the next five years,” said Dong-hee Suh, CFO and Senior Vice President of LG Display.
He added, “As the current business environment for P-OLED is somewhat challenging but also presents many business opportunities ahead, LG Display will consistently maintain our strategic direction regarding P-OLED business and build a sound base for growth. In addition, we will make efforts to achieve a significant revenue increase in large-size OLED panels as our OLED plant in China will ramp up production, and continue to stably manage forecasts for P-OLED panels for smartphones as well as for automobiles, for which we will increase shipments during the first half of this year. All these efforts will create meaningful opportunities for earnings improvement from the second half.”