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US OLED specialist doubles as industry takes first volume steps

Universal Display is a public company in the US which has something close to 1,000 patents in Organic Light Emitting Diodes and licenses its technolog

By PETER WHITE

Published: 17 March, 2011

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Universal Display is a public company in the US which has something close to 1,000 patents in Organic Light Emitting Diodes and licenses its technologies, including high-efficiency phosphorescent OLED and offers phosphorescent OLED materials and has deals with companies such as LG Display, Samsung and Sony and its technology is essential to their displays output. So its results, out this week, are a bit of an indicator for the state of OLED everywhere.

The company says that revenues for the fourth quarter were $10 million, more than double fourth quarter of 2009. Commercial revenue, which includes commercial chemical revenue, license and royalty revenues, and commercialization assistance, was $4.5 million, compared to $1.89 million a year earlier. The company says that increase is due to increased commercial chemical sales, which implies there are more screens being made. The rest of its revenue was down to development.

The company is still making a loss, but it is now marginal instead of the $4.1 million it lost last year.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about constraints in OLED screen supply in the handset market, and this looks to be partly due to Samsung dominating this part of the OLED market and continuing to use the screens for the most part in its own devices and selling off some over-supply, and because other companies have yet to ramp production. Perhaps the OLED screen market was under predicted when the major display companies were planning factory capacity or they were just being cautious, but it looks like demand is there when this fixes itself.

Universal’s 10k form shows that most of the production increases have come through Samsung but Universal says that in 2010 it also supplied materials to LG Display for use it its AMOLED display and to Tohoku Pioneer for use in its commercial PMOLED display products.

For the full year Universal reported revenues of $30.5 million, double last year and it looks like the company will hit profitability in the coming year. The company lost $19.9 million in 2010 and $20.5 million in 2009, but in 2010 year that included $11.3 million of non-cash losses on stock warrant liability which will come to an end in the third quarter of 2011.

The company said “2010 was the year PHOLED technology officially migrated out of the laboratory and into the lives of millions of consumers. The appetite for bright, beautiful and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly displays is creating strong demand for the use of OLEDs in a variety of applications.”

The company confirmed that many of its customers would add capacity during 2011, and says that it is actively pursuing opportunities in the small and large format display markets, as well as the general lighting market where its products are also used.

Faultline has its doubts about large format OLED screens for TV, because of the great strides which LED backlit screens have made during the past year and the improvement this brings in both power usage and contrast. But even a small market share here will considerably increase the materials supply side of the business, given that a 30 inch screen needs many times the material of a single handset screen, even those the size of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

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