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AUO declines to comment on Apple's investment reports; shares jump

2016/01/12 17:39:36

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) AU Optronics Corp. (AUO, 友達), one of Taiwan's leading flat panel makers, Tuesday, declined to comment on media reports stating that Apple Inc. is planning to invest in the Taiwanese firm.

While AUO declined to respond to the reports, shares of the company soared Tuesday, gaining 5.15 percent to close at NT$9.53 (US$0.28) with 179.93 million shares changing hands, outperforming the local main board, where the weighted index ended down 0.26 percent amid caution ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

Buying in AUO also spread to Innolux Corp. (群創), another Taiwanese major flat panel maker, with its shares closing up 2.67 percent to NT$9.60.

According to the reports, Apple is likely to transform AUO into an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) screen supplier for production of future iPhones, and if AUO agrees with Apple's fund injection plan, the Taiwanese firm could see its sales and gross margin grow significantly.

AUO said the company preferred not to comment on any single product line or any individual customers.

The reports said that AUO has made efforts at developing AMOLED displays for more than a decade and has built up a rich patent portfolio for such devices. Last year, AUO started shipping AMOLED panels to some Chinese firms, such as Huawei Technologies Co. and TCL Corp.

The reports said that Apple's iPhone currently uses low temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) panels, along with Japan Display Inc., Sharp Corp. and South Korea's LG Display Co. The reports added that Apple's plan to team up with AUO is expected to help the U.S. consumer electronics giant take on competition from Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea.

AUO is scheduled to hold an investor conference on Jan. 28 to report its earnings for the fourth quarter of last year and give guidance for the current quarter. The possible investment from Apple could be the focus of institutional investors' inquiries.

In the October-December period, AUO posted NT$83.64 billion in consolidated sales, down 6.3 percent from a quarter earlier and also down 20.2 percent from a year earlier. For all of 2015, AUO's consolidated sales stood at NT$360.54 billion, down 11.7 percent from a year earlier.

In the first nine months of last year, AUO recorded NT$1.36 in earnings per share, up from NT$1.21 recorded over the same period of the previous year.

(By Pan Chi-i and Frances Huang)
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