Himax (HIMX) expects Q1 revenue to be up 11.1% Y/Y, and EPS to be in a range of $0.083-$0.098. The former is above a consensus for 8.2% growth, but the latter is below a $0.10 consensus.
The chipmaker suggests price competition in the low-end smartphone (LCD driver IC) market, along with a CMOS image sensor inventory correction, will pressure near-term margins. It expects margins to improve later in 2014.
Small/medium-sized panel driver sales (58% of revenue) rose 32% Y/Y in Q4 vs. 15% in Q3, buoyed by smartphone/tablet demand. Large-sized panel drivers plunged 40% after falling 25% in Q3 (TV/PC monitor weakness). All other products (image sensors, power management ICs, etc.) rose 28%
"Pilot shipments" of Himax's LCOS microdisplays "for new and exciting head-mounted display applications" (Google Glass?) started in Q4.
Himax asserts its large-panel driver business will return to growth in 2014, aided by 4K panel and non-Chinese design wins. Small-panel sales are expected to get a lift from high-res smartphone, tablet, and automotive wins.
Q4 gross margin was 25.1%, -20 bps Q/Q (hurt by an unfavorable mix) but +180 bps Y/Y. Opex rose 17.6% Y/Y, soundly exceeding revenue growth of 2.4%.
Q4 results, PR