Hoya: CEO sees fall-off in demand for LCD photomasks

Hoya Corp.“s sales of photomasks to LCD panel makers will slow down, probably from early 2005, said CEO Hiroshi Suzuki.
Demand for the company“s photomasks is currently in excess of supply since L…

Hoya Corp.“s sales of photomasks to LCD panel makers will slow down, probably from early 2005, said CEO Hiroshi Suzuki. Demand for the company“s photomasks is currently in excess of supply since LCD panel makers have expanded capital investment, Suzuki said recently. However, demand will fall in three to six months as panel makers reduce their product ranges to improve profitability, he said. He noted that producers are looking at which areas to reinforce, whether that be LCD panels for flat-panel televisions or those for personal computers. Photomasks are used to transfer circuit patterns in the manufacturing of semiconductors and liquid crystal parts. Currently, photomask demand from LCD makers is stronger than demand from semiconductor makers, Suzuki said. Sales to LCD makers may go down more quickly, while sales to chipmakers may not fall substantially, he added. In the area of digital camera lenses, another key Hoya product, Suzuki said demand was nearly at the same level as the company“s supply capacity and is unlikely to slow down. He said camera makers are replacing slower selling models and Hoya expects steady sales at least until Christmas 2004. However, if inventories of digital cameras increase unexpectedly and digital camera prices fall sharply, Hoya may face a sudden fall in sales early in 2005, Suzuki said. Suzuki said he is concerned about Hoya“s business performance in the January-March 4Q of fiscal 2004. Depending on results for the quarter, the company“s earnings for the 2H may be weaker than for the 1H, he said. But Hoya is unlikely to suffer a major sales drop because its product prices do not fall sharply, he said.