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LG Electronics Targets 15% Increase in Flat-Screen TV Sales

LG Electronics Inc., the world’s second-largest maker of TVs, plans to increase television sales 15 percent this year by offering sets with new display technology and more advanced functions.

The target is about 10 percentage points higher than projected growth in the global flat-screen TV market, LG said in a statement today. The Seoul-based manufacturer sold about 30 million flat-screen TVs last year, it said.

LG plans to focus more on higher-margin TVs using new display technologies, including ultra-high definition screens and organic light-emitting diodes, or OLED, to combat slowing profitability in the industry as consumers shift toward portable devices. The company released an upgraded version of an Internet-enabled TV with 3-D capability in South Korea today.

LG said Jan. 30 its fourth-quarter net loss widened to 468 billion won ($432 million) from a 112 billion-won loss a year earlier as the strengthening South Korean currency hampered efforts to compete against overseas rivals.

Operating profit at LG’s home-entertainment division, which includes TVs, fell to 19.2 billion won in the quarter from 168.2 billion won a year earlier. The company shipped 9.25 million flat-screen TVs in the October-December period.

LG rose 1 percent to 73,700 won as of 1:51 p.m. in Seoul trading, erasing its decline for the year. South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index has dropped 1.1 percent this year.

Market Outlook

Global TV shipments probably fell more than 4 percent last year and will be little changed in 2013, market researcher DisplaySearch said in an Oct. 24 report.

“The global TV market this year doesn’t seem that bright,” Havis Kwon, head of LG’s TV business, told reporters today in Seoul. “The weakening yen is also helping Japanese companies rebound, and helping lift their price competitiveness.”

LG said Jan. 2 it started selling a 55-inch OLED set in South Korea for 11 million won ($10,140), giving the company a head start in mass-marketing the technology as its larger rival, Samsung Electronics Co., has yet to begin sales. LG will expand OLED TV sales to North America, Europe and other Asian markets in the first quarter, it said at the time.

OLED screens are thinner and use less power than current liquid-crystal-display panels, while offering sharper images.

Advance orders for LG’s OLED models have reached 100 so far, the company said.

High-margin TV models helped Samsung boost fourth-quarter operating profit at its consumer-electronics unit, which makes televisions and home appliances, to 740 billion won from 540 billion won a year earlier, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said Jan. 25.

Samsung sold more than 51 million flat-screen TVs worldwide last year, according to the company.

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