Taipei--AU Optronics Corp. (AUO, ??), one of the largest flat panel makers in Taiwan, said on Tuesday that it posted a net profit in 2016, marking its fourth consecutive year of profitability, after witnessing a significant improvement in its bottom line in the fourth quarter of the year on the back of a recovery in global demand.
At an investor conference, AUO said it recorded NT$7.82 billion (US$252 million) in net profit attributable to the owners of the company for 2016, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier with earnings per share at NT$0.81, compared with NT$0.51 in 2015.
AUO Chairman Paul Peng (???) said that 2016 was a dramatic year for the global flat panel business, with a weak first quarter followed by a recovery that started in the second quarter and reached a high in the fourth quarter.
In the first three quarters of last year, AUO posted loss per share of NT$0.12, largely caused by a supply glut in the January-March period.
As a result of improved profitability over the past four years, Peng said AUO has been able to cut its debt by more than NT$140 billion, ensuring the company's financial stability.
In the fourth quarter, AUO posted NT$8.97 billion in net profit attributable to the owners of the company, up 83.1 percent from the third quarter with EPS of NT$0.93, compared to NT$0.51 in the July-September period, the company's data showed.
On the back of tight supply in the fourth quarter, AUO said average sales price rose to US$413 per square meter, up from US$372 in the previous quarter.
In 2016, AUO's shipments of large-sized screens, referring to panels of more than 10-inches, rose 4.6 percent year on-year to 111 million units, while its shipments of small and medium sized screens fell 10.9 percent from a year earlier to about 154 million units.
Peng said that although the global flat panel business is in the process of increasing production capacity, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2017, adding that he remained bullish on market conditions this year.
Echoing Peng, AUO President Michael Tsai (???) said that global demand in 2017 is expected to be boosted by the rising popularity of large flat TV screens. Tsai said that supply for 2017 is expected to grow about 3 percent from a year earlier, but demand is forecast to rise 5 percent year-on-year.
According to AUO, the company is expanding capacity at its 8.5th generation production plant in Taichung by 25,000-30,000 units a month and the new capacity is scheduled to come online in the second half of next year.
AUO also announced on Tuesday that a board meeting held a day earlier approved NT$42.50 billion in capital expenditure for new technology development and production capacity expansion.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel