Japan: glassmakers see April-June sales increase for display substrates

Major Japanese glassmakers have reported quarter-on-quarter increases in their sales of glass displays substrates in April-June 2009 on sharp rebounds in the production of flat-panel televisions in Ch…

Major Japanese glassmakers have reported quarter-on-quarter increases in their sales of glass displays substrates in April-June 2009 on sharp rebounds in the production of flat-panel televisions in China and rising demand in Japan. In Japan, in fact, an eco-point programme had been introduced to give shopping points to consumers who buy energy-saving appliances. Japanese companies are therefore welcoming the tighter display-substrate market, since demand is still at a standstill in other segments such as construction and automobiles, but are also cautious about capacity expansions, as they know the market is volatile. Asahi Glass reported that shipments of glass substrates for liquid crystal displays in the April-June quarter saw a 50% increased compared to the previous quarter. The company said that it is returning to full capacity production for its glass substrates for flat-panel displays since it expects the upward trend to continue. It is also starting up its third production plant for glass substrates in South Korea, expected to resolve its glass-substrate supply shortage by the end of September 2009. April-June sales for Nippon Sheet Glass were JPY 15 billion (USD 160 million) for business in functional glass products such as battery separators and glass substrates for small and medium-sized LCDs, a decrease compared to JPY 19.2 billion in the same quarter of 2008 but an increase from JPY 13 billion in the previous quarter. The company broke even in terms of operating income in the April-June quarter, compared with an operating loss of JPY 500 million reported in the previous quarter. Sales in China for Nippon Sheet Glass were mainly due to better-than-expected recovery in LCD-glass-substrate business, which accounts for about 30% of the sales and operating profit of its business in functional glass products. Central Glass expects its July-September sales of LCD glass substrates, touchscreens and cover glass to be higher than the April-June figure, and intends to renovate its float-glass melting furnace to lower substrate production cost.