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Samsung capital outlays to soar (The Wall Street Journal )
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TECHNOLOGY

  • MAY 18, 2010
  • Samsung capital outlays to soar

    Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled plans to more than double its spending on new factories and equipment to a record $15.6 billion this year, a sign of confidence in the rebounding economy and its desire for a bigger lead in memory chips and in components used to make flat-panel televisions.

     

    The ambitious spending plan could speed efforts to address capacity constraints as the electronics industry ramps up to meet growing consumer demand. Japan's Sharp Corp. on Monday warned that it expects tight supplies of equipment used to make flat-panel TVs as soon as the second half of this year.

     

    Increases in capital spending are a mixed blessing in the heavily cyclical electronics industry because adding capacity erodes pricing power and accelerates the slip back to lower profits, even as it indicates that business has improved. Tight supplies fatten profit margins.

     

    "There's a bit of showmanship to this announcement," said Greg Roh, analyst at HMC Investment Securities. "This can be interpreted as [Samsung] telling equipment makers 'I'll buy a lot of your stuff so don't sell to anyone else,' while threatening their competitors, telling them to get out of the business on their own accord."

     

    Samsung shares fell 3.2% following the announcement. South Korea's benchmark Kospi index fell 2.6% amid a Monday Asian selloff.

     

    Of the total 18 trillion South Korean won the company plans in new outlays, Samsung will spend 11 trillion won on memory chips, building its first new chip factory since 2005 and updating equipment in others. It will spend 5 trillion won on liquid-crystal-display operations, including its first new factory since 2008. Both new factories will be built in South Korea, in existing clusters of Samsung plants south of Seoul.

     

    The other 2 trillion won will be spent on facilities for cellphones, TVs and appliances, most of which it builds outside of South Korea. The company didn't announce new factories for those operations.

     

    The total figure eclipses Samsung's previous record spending of 10.7 trillion won in 2006. But against an expected 2010 revenue of around 145 trillion won, Samsung's capital spending as a percentage of sales may still end this year below the record 12.5% level set in 2005 and 2006.

     

    The additions come as TV makers and other begin to face supply constraints. Japan's Sharp said in early April that supply and demand for liquid crystal display panels, the main component for LCD televisions, would be mostly balanced for the next two years.

     

    But on Monday, the supplier to manufacturer Sony Corp. and others said it had drastically changed its outlook for LCD panels, predicting major constraints starting in the third quarter of 2010 and lasting until the end of 2011.

     

    The company cited growing demand from China as well as factories shifting over to make larger computer monitors, which have also seen demand rise.

     

    "Overall capacity at LCD makers producing large-size panels for TVs has dropped more than we had ever imagined," said Sharp President Mikio Katayama at a news conference to unveil the company's strategy for the current fiscal year to March 2011.

     

    The forecast follows indications last week from Sony that the supply chain was facing some pressure. "At this point looking at the situation on the ground, supply is a little tight," said Sony Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda at a news conference Thursday. "But we'll procure from many places and we think our sales goal is attainable."

     

    In March, Research firm DisplaySearch said LCD television shipments are expected to exceed 180 million units in 2010, a 24% rise from last year. Sony is targeting a 60% increase to 25 million TVs in the current fiscal year to March 2011 versus 15.6 million units in the past fiscal year.

     

    Still, Barclays Capital analyst Eric Lee notes there are some concerning signs for panel makers. He says that there may be some building panel inventory at TV makers and that this year's sales in China have not been as strong as initially expected.

     

    Samsung also Monday said Chairman Lee Kun-hee will meet next week with Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer. The two companies compete in most electronic products markets but also operate a joint venture that produces LCD panels at two factories in South Korea.

     

    Sony declined to comment on the meeting, while Samsung would not provide details on the agenda for the meeting.

     

    Mr. Lee made his first public appearance Monday since returning to the company in March, at a ground-breaking ceremony for the new chip factory timed with the capital-spending announcement.

     

    Mr. Lee returned to the post two years after resigning amidst a tax fraud scandal. He was convicted, paid a fine and then pardoned, paving the way for his return to the firm. Samsung executives initially said Mr. Lee would take a largely ceremonial role at the firm, but Monday's actions indicate he's again becoming its public face.

     

    —Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed to this articlePrinted in The Wall Street Journal Asia, page 1

     

[ 2010-05-19, 16:13 ] 조회수 : 2977
출처 : The Wall Street Journal