Universal Display is Extraordinarily Speculative but Doing Well (PANL)

| About: Universal Display (OLED)

I bought Universal Display (NASDAQ:PANL) initially on a newsletter recommendation from the Motley Fool, and though it's extraordinarily speculative even in comparison with my other holdings I still like the company.

PANL has moved wildly up and down on news, and the news has generally been of two varieties for this investment in LED intellectual property -- news related to government contracts and to possible products using their technology, and news about their scientific advances. Today's move and the other recent one back in August are both related to the science of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs).

As with all other displays, OLEDs require a combination of core colors to display a full spectrum -- and the recalcitrant color that they've been trying unsuccessfully in recent times to produce has been blue. PANL produced a short-lived sky blue in August, and today announced a much longer lived (and therefore commercially viable) sky blue as well as an advancement in developing a richer hue of blue (sky blue is a big advance but isn't that useful -- a deeper blue is required to display a full enough spectrum to make a display viable).

So clearly the science is going well, and PANL is on its way to making it possible to create a completely-OLED display in the relatively near future (they've had to use regular LEDs for the blue so far). They've also gotten some more government contracts to study low-power LEDs for lighting (not display) and develop OLED screen technology for military applications, which is a nice way of funding their continuing R&D (this is not unlike SpaceDev's strategy, by the way -- use government contracts and grants to fund your R&D with an eye to commercial products being built based on the science you develop using those funds).

Since their relationship with Samsung and other display manufacturing partners has not yet advanced to the product deployment level to any serious degree, and there are many competing technologies in this quickly changing space, I consider this to be a very long shot -- I'm not planning to invest any more in PANL in the near future, but I like what I've seen so far and I'm willing to hold this for some potentially dramatic returns several years down the line.

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