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In a fresh market report, IT researcher iSupplisees OLED TV screens rising from a paltry $10 million of worldwide revenue this year to an eye-popping $1.8 billion in 2015. It's an exponential growth curve that started when Sony (NYSE: SNE ) sold its first 11-inch OLED television. In six years, those big and expensive TV screens will edge out small-screen phone displays as the largest OLED market when you count by revenue.
Even so, OLED screens will make up a vanishingly small portion of the total TV market in six years. The manufacturing facilities for OLED displays we have today are not designed to crank out enormous screens suitable for your living room. OLED is a fairly new technology with a few technical limitations of its own, and it will take years to build out a reliable large-scale manufacturing infrastructure. And the incumbent LCD display technology won't stand still while OLED matures, so the competition will be stronger. All told, iSuppli expects that only a couple percent of all TVs sold in 2015 will be built around OLED technology.
But the investing opportunity remains enormous. OLED technologist Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL ) is on pace to collect around $5 million in commercial sales in 2009 from licensing its patents to device makers like Samsung and AU Optronics (NYSE: AUO ) . When you consider iSuppli's $10 million estimate for TV screen sales, it's easy to see that Universal Display takes home a large portion of those sales. Keep in mind that most OLED sales come from small-screen gadgets like Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) cell phones and SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK ) MP3 players, and that we don't know how much revenue Universal Display collects from each bleeding-edge TV sold.
Still, the company obviously has a big finger in this pie and is set to ride the TV revolution to astounding riches. And the main competition comes from multinational giants like Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK ) and Sumitomo Chemical. Universal Display is small and obscure, and can easily multiply your investment many times over when catalysts like the TV revolution kick in.