Market Overview

Panasonic Finally Gives Up on This Ancient Technology

For more than a decade, Panasonic (NYSE: PC) has been one of the strongest supporters of PDPs (plasma display panels).

When Sony (NYSE: SNE) and other manufacturers switched to LCD, Panasonic decided to heavily support both formats.

Now it seems that Panasonic is finally letting go of the dying plasma technology.

According to DigiTimes, Panasonic will cut its shipments of PDP televisions to less than one million in 2013. The company will compensate for this decline by increasing production of LCD (liquid crystal display) panels.

LCDs have become the new industry standard for high-definition TVs. Consumers can see this the moment they walk into a store.

LED (light-emitting diode) TVs, a variation of LCDs, are even more popular -- depending on where you shop. The search results listed below for LCD televisions include LED models.

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) currently sells more than 90 LCD TVs on its website.

Target (NYSE: TGT) sells 87 different models.

Hundreds more can be found on Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), Walmart.com (NYSE: WMT) and Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK).

Best Buy currently offers nearly 300 different models. Wal-Mart sells more than 100 LED TVs. Dozens of them can be found on Target.com and Overstock.com. Many more are available from Amazon.

Comparatively, a search for "plasma TVs" retrieved 42 results on Best Buy's website -- and only two on Target.com. Wal-Mart combined the few plasma TVs that it carries with a number of stands and shelving units, making it difficult to determine how many plasma displays were actually available. Amazon and Overstock did the same thing.

Plasma technology was initially favored by Sony, Panasonic and other manufacturers because it provided a clearer, brighter and more robust image. It also allowed for superior contrast and a more vibrant display of colors.

LCD televisions are cheaper to manufacture. After they caught up in quality, plasma displays lost their advantage.

Panasonic's transition has been in the works for at least a couple of months. In January the company announced that it closed a plasma TV factory in Shanghai.

At the time, The Wall Street Journal reporter Juro Osawa said that it was the "latest indication of how the Japanese consumer-electronics maker's big bet on [plasma] technology hasn't paid off."

While Panasonic's decision may be good for the company's long-term success, investors did not seem to be overly pleased with the DigiTimes report. As of this writing, the TV maker is trading down nearly three percent.

After enduring several months of losses in 2012, Panasonic plummeted more than 29 percent. The company has been performing better this year, rising more than 17 percent year-to-date.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis@benzingapro.com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Digitimes Juro Osawa Panasonic The Wall Street JournalNews Rumors Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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