Universal Display Makes Up for Lost Time

Last quarter, OLED specialist Universal Display (NASDAQ: OLED  ) got absolutely clobbered after the company missed Street forecasts. Delays in OLED adoption in TVs were one culprit to the shortfall, which led to a troublesome jump in inventory sitting on the balance sheet. Just days ago, shares were also knocked down by 16% on negative analyst sentiment.

After posting fourth-quarter earnings last night, shares have gained by as much as 17% today. How good were the figures?

A mixed bag
Revenue in the fourth quarter came in at $28.1 million. A large chunk of that was the $15 million royalty payment the company received from Samsung, which it collects every other quarter. Material sales declined modestly to $10.1 million. However, the Street was expecting only $26.4 million in revenue, allowing the company to top expectations.

On the other hand, UDC missed analyst estimates on the bottom line by a penny. The $0.12 per share profit was barely shy of the $0.13 per share profit that analysts were modeling for.

The guidance game
UDC offered guidance for the next fiscal year, with 2013 sales expected to be in the range of $110 million to $125 million, although it's worth noting that management missed its guidance last year, because of aforementioned OLED TV product delays at Samsung and LG. In the third quarter of 2012, UDC was forced to reduce full-year guidance from a range of $90 million to $110 million to a lower range of $80 million to $82 million for fiscal 2012. The company was able to moderately top this reduced range, as full-year 2012 sales ended up being $83.2 million.

Those OLED TV delays have weighed on UDC's results, but the good news is that LG has finally started shipping those devices. LG started taking pre-orders late last year, and the South Korean company said that it had over 100 customers waiting in line. That's a respectable amount of consumers willing to pay over $10,000 to be early adopters of the next wave of TV technology. Make no mistake: OLED is the next wave and LG just recently said it would invest an additional $657 million in OLED panel manufacturing facilities.

Samsung introduced its curved OLED TV at CES last month, but has not disclosed a firm shipping date. At long last, OLED TVs are beginning to ramp up, and while we're still in the very early stages, it's better than further delays.

There are plenty of Galaxies where that came from
Deutsche Bank is slightly increasing its price target on shares from $32 to $35 while sticking with its "buy" rating following the results. The analyst believes UDC is being conservative with outlook and also expects the launch of Samsung's Galaxy S IV (which is slated for March 14) to provide a near-term boost of green material sales.

However, this is still up in the air (in my opinion). While Samsung is certainly a big proponent of OLED displays in its smartphones, recent rumors suggest that the company has been running into manufacturing challenges producing AMOLED displays at the full HD resolutions it wants to. Those difficulties may force Samsung to switch back to traditional LCD displays in 2013 throughout its lineup while it works out the kinks.

The South Korean company is also reportedly having power issues with its Exynos 5 Octa chip that was supposed to power the Galaxy S IV, and it may have to fall back on Qualcomm for one of its newer Snapdragon processors that boast better power efficiency. Chances are the Galaxy S IV may ship with a SoLux Display and a Snapdragon 600.

If the rumors prove accurate, then the Galaxy S IV may not benefit UDC like Deutsche Bank believes. Fortunately, Samsung has plenty of other Galaxy devices that sport OLED displays, even if the new flagship won't.

Galaxy S IV notwithstanding, UDC still has plenty of opportunities this year.

Universal Display has a powerful patent portfolio behind OLEDs, a technology poised to dominate the displays of the future. Its placement at the center of OLEDs makes the company an underappreciated way to play the enormous sales growth in tablets and smartphones. However, like any new technology, there are plenty of risks to Universal Display. I've authored a new premium report that dives into reasons to buy the company as well as the challenges facing it. For access to this comprehensive report, simply click here now.


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