Just 4 days after Credit Suisse cut LG Display (LPL +3.7%) to Underperform (and peer AU Optroniics to Neutral), CLSA has given the LCD panel maker a 2-notch upgraded to Outperform.
The firm thinks the recent selloff sparked by Japan Display's weak guidance is overdone. A source told Bloomberg Japan Display (a reported iPhone 6 LCD supplier, like LG) failed to secure parts needed to meet Apple's orders, and also expects shipments to Sony to fall.
Reuters reports Apple (AAPL +0.4%) originally wanted the iPhone 6 to use a single LCD backlight film layer instead of the normal two, but changed its mind after finding a single layer wasn't bright enough.
The about-face is said to have put screen assembly "on hold for part of June and July." Production is now back on track, and suppliers are "working flat-out to make up for lost time." The WSJreported in July Apple has placed orders for 70M-80M iPhone 6 units to be produced by Dec. 30.
Japan Display, Sharp (OTCPK:SHCAY), and LG Display (LPL -2.6%) are reportedly the iPhone 6's LCD suppliers. Japan Display has previously said shipments for "a large customer" (believed to be Apple) might be delayed in calendar Q3.
Apple has shrugged off the report, and is trading near $101.
Goldman, a long-time Universal Display (OLED +7.3%) bull, has issued another upbeat note: The firm sees a variety of upcoming mobile, TV, and wearables product launches boosting Universal's growth.
Goldman recently argued Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S (features a 2K OLED display) will act as a positive catalyst; volumes should be much lower than the Galaxy S5 and Note 3's, but revenue/device higher.
Separately, Korean media reports state LG Display (LPL +1.6%) plans to spend $788M to expand OLED production, in part to address the nascent OLED TV market (has seen some recent exits). For his part, LPL CEO Han Sang-beom says his company is thinking of expanding production of plastic OLEDs for smartphones and smartwatches.
Reuters previously reported LPL will be the exclusive display supplier for Apple's iWatch. The Nikkei has reported the iWatch will feature a curved OLED display.
Contract manufacturer Quanta will start iWatch (AAPL -0.4%) mass production in July ahead of a launch that could "come as early as October," Reuters reports, citing sources. That fits well with past reports from the Nikkei and re/code.
Reuters adds the device will likely have a 2.5" touch display - LG Display (LPL +2.3%) is said to be the exclusive supplier - to go with a pulse monitor (should work with iOS 8's Health app) and wireless charging support. The watch face "will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape."
Apple reportedly expects 50M shipments in the first year of availability; the consumer response could ultimately yield a very different shipment level. For reference, Apple sold 148M iPhones in FY13, and might sell 180M+ in FY14.
Update:The WSJ reports the iWatch will likely arrive in two screen sizes, and feature over 10 sensors.
Reuters' Tokyo bureau reports Japan Display will begin making LCDs for a 4.7" iPhone (AAPL +0.3%) as soon as May, and that Sharp and LG Display (LPL +1.3%) are set to begin around June.
However, production of displays for a 5.5" model is "expected to start several months later," due to challenges in producing in-cell touch sensors (used in recent iPhones) for the displays.
The Nikkei reported last week Sharp will be ramping iPhone 6 LCD production as soon as Q2, and that two larger models are likely. Before that, the WSJ reported two larger iPhones are on tap, and that the smaller model is further along in development.
Samsung, which has dominated the high-end phablet market to date, launched the Galaxy Note 3 in September last year.
Though sell-side commentary on Apple's (AAPL -2.3%) FQ4 numbers was largely positive, investors decided to take profits following a 26% rally from where shares traded going into July's market-pleasing FQ3 report.
Canaccord's Mike Walkley joined the list of analysts praising Apple's numbers; he sees Apple "well-positioned" to exceed Street estimates, even though he expects "more aggressive" 5C pricing in 2014 to boost international sales. Meanwhile, Needham's Charlie Wolf gave a thumbs-up to Apple's decision to maintain premium pricing, rather than move downmarket to better compete against cheaper Android hardware.
While the sell-side dissected Apple's numbers, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is predicting new retail chief/ex-Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts will be Apple's next CEO. Benioff declares Ahrendts "the most important hire Tim Cook has ever made."
Also: The Korea Heraldreports LG Display (LPL) and Taiwan's RiTDisplay ar expected to supply flexible OLED panels for an iWatch. A month ago, a Korean site reported the iWatch will feature a flexible OLED, and that Apple is working on prototypes sporting 1.3", 1.4", and 1.5" displays.
AMD (AMD -12.7%) has been cut to Neutral by BofA/Merrill after beating Q3 estimates and providing above-consensus Q4 revenue guidance, but also reporting a 15% Y/Y drop in CPU division sales due to PC weakness.
LG Display (LPL +0.3%) warns Q4 profit will fail to match Q3 highs due to falling TV panel prices.
CFO James Jeong: "Given weak profitability that TV manufacturers are having right now, it'll be difficult to expect panel prices to rebound any time soon, but their rate of decline is likely to slow down." To counter the trend, LG Display is focusing on bigger-ticket items like ultra high-definition panels.
TV displays represented 44% of revenue in Q3, down from 47% in the previous year. Mobile displays drove revenue in Q3 and composed 25% of sales from 24% in the previous year.
Samsung (SSNLF.PK, SSNGY.OB), by far Universal Display's (OLED +3.7%) largest customer, says it has begun mass-producing a 5.7" 1080p flexible OLED panel, and soon plans to launch a phone that makes use of them. A variant of the Galaxy Note 3 (has a 5.7" 1080p display) is a good possibility.
OLED-Info.com estimates the manufacturing line being used by Samsung can produce a few hundred thousand flexible 5.7" panels per month.
Reuters reports the retina iPad Mini (AAPL -0.5%) "could be available in only limited quantities this year, if at all," thanks to display manufacturing challenges.
Sources say Apple's supply chain is just beginning to gear up to make displays for the tablet, and that Apple delayed certifying display manufacturers; LG Display (LPL), Samsung Display, and Sharp (SHCAY.PK) reportedly competed to supply panels.
Bloomberg previously reported a retina Mini and 5th-gen iPad would arrive this year, andthe WSJ reported "mass production" of a retina Mini would start in Q4. Reuters' report comes as Amazon rolls out new Kindle Fires with high-res displays, and a couple months after Google rolled out a second-gen Nexus 7 with a high-res display to good reviews.
Separately, Apple has hired Jean-Francois Mule, once an SVP for cable TV R&D consortium CableLabs, to be an engineering director. That's boosting speculation the company is working on set-tops that provide direct access to pay-TV content.
Canaccord's Jonathan Dorsheimer has downgraded Universal Display (OLED) to Sell and lowered his PT to $19 from $30. Most importantly, he says checks indicate Samsung Display and LG Display (LPL) have in-house R&D programs to create their own phosphorescent OLED materials. He thinks production could begin after Universal patents expire in 2017.
Dorsheimer is also concerned about OLED TV push-outs.
Samsung recently bought OLED materials provider Novaled. Universal shares dove when the deal was first reported, but recouped some of their losses after analysts argued Novaled's materials are complementary.
Samsung says it has "come to an agreement with LG Display to focus on finding ways to cooperate on patent matters though discussions, and to immediately drop lawsuits" related to LCD and OLED IP.
The settlement is an incremental positive for Universal Display (OLED +0.8%), which counts both companies as licensees (but currently gets far more revenue from Samsung). In addition to standard mobile OLED displays, both Samsung and LG are working on flexible OLEDs and OLED TV displays.
Samsung Display was spun off from Samsung Electronics in 2012.
LG Display Co Ltd provides thin-film transistor liquid crystal display, or TFT-LCD, technology and other display panel technologies, including OLED technology. It manufactures TFT-LCD panels for use in televisions, notebook computers, and desktop.