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Himax Technologies, Inc. (HIMX) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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HIMX earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.

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Himax Technologies, Inc. (HIMX -0.69%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 4, 2021, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Himax Technologies Incorporated Third Quarter [Phonetic] 2020 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mr. Mark Schwalenberg from MZ Group. Please go ahead.

Mark Schwalenberg -- Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Welcome everyone to Himax's fourth quarter 2020 earnings call. Joining us from the company today are Mr. Jordan Wu, President and Chief Executive Officer; Ms. Jessica Pan, Chief Financial Officer; and Mr. Eric Li, Chief IR/PR Officer. After the company's prepared comments, we will -- we have allocated time for questions in a Q&A session.

If you have not yet received a copy of today's results, please email himx@mzgroup.us. Access the press release on financial portals or download a copy from Himax's website at www.himax.com.tw.

Before we begin the formal remarks, I'd like to remind everyone that some of the statements in this conference call, including statements regarding expected future financial results and industry growth are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those described in this conference call.

Factors that could cause actual results -- or events to differ materially from these described in this conference call include but are not limited to general business and economic conditions, the state of the semiconductor industry, market acceptance and competitiveness of the driver and non-driver products developed by Himax, demand for end use application products, the uncertainty of continued success and technological innovations as well as other operational and market challenges and other risks described from time to time in the company's SEC filings, including those risks identified in the section entitled Risk Factors and its Form 20-F for the year-ended December 31, 2019 filed with the SEC in March 2020.

Except for the company's full year of 2019 financials, which were provided in the company's 20-F and filed with the SEC on March 25, 2020, the financial information included in this conference call is unaudited and consolidated and prepared in accordance with IFRS accounting. Such financial information is generated internally and has not been subjected to the same review and scrutiny, including internal auditing procedures and external audits by an independent auditor, to which we subject our annual consolidated financial statements and may vary materially from the audited consolidated financial information for the same period. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Eric Li. Eric, the floor is yours.

Eric Li -- Chief IR/PR Officer

Thank you, Mark. Thank you and thank you everybody for joining us. My name is Eric Li, and I'm the Chief IR/PR Officer. Joining me are Jordan Wu, our CEO and Jessica Pan, our CFO. On today's call, I will first review the Himax's consolidated financial performance for the fourth quarter and the full year 2020 followed by the first quarter 2021 outlook.

Jordan will then give an update on the status of our business, after which we will take questions. We will review our financials on both IFRS and non-IFRS basis. The non-IFRS financials exclude share-based compensation and acquisition-related charges. The impact of COVID-19 has persisted globally new life science, social activity and economic practice are all dynamically evolving. One of these influences is unexpected long-lasting strong demand for electronics device and the component, which is broadening capacity shortage in semiconductor foundry has began.

In such a favorable but challenging business environment, we continue to steadily implement prudent execution and to deliver strong business performance along the way. We pre-announced the preliminary key financial results for the first quarter on January 7th with revenues, gross margin and the EPS, all exceeding the guidance issued on November 12, 2020.

Today, our reported result for the revenues, gross margin and EPS are all in-line with the pre-announced results. Both revenues and the gross margin hit record highs in fourth quarter of 2020.

For the first quarter, we recorded net revenues of $275.8 million, an increase of 14.9% sequentially and an increase of 57.6% compared to the same period last year. The 14.9% sequential increase of revenue exceeded our guidance of an increase of around 10% quarter-over-quarter. Thanks to strong momentum across all major business segments. TV, monitor, automotive driver ICs and the CMOS image sensor contributed more to the better than guided sales than other segment.

Gross margin of 31.2% exceeding -- exceeded the prior guidance of around 29% and has significantly improved from the 22.3% of the third quarter 2020. IFRS profit per diluted ADS was $0.195, exceeding our guidance of around $0.15 to $0.16. Strong sales and improved gross margin contributed to the better than expected earnings results.

Non-IFRS profit per diluted ADS was $0.197, exceeding our guidance of around $0.151 to $0.161. Revenue from large display drivers was $64.2 million, up 15.2% sequentially and up 11% year-over-year. The sequential growth was driven by a continued strong demand for IT products, including notebook and monitor, derived it from the ongoing remote working and the distance education.

TV revenue was up slightly quarter-over-quarter and outperformed our previous guidance of a mid single-digit sequential decline, due to better home entertainment demand from the stay-at-home economy. Large panel driver IC accounted for 23.3% of total revenues for this quarter compared to 23.2% in the third quarter of 2020 and the 33.1% a year ago. Small and medium-sized display driver continue to grow in the fourth quarter as guided, with revenue of $177.9 million, up 17.3% sequentially and up 119.4% year-over-year.

Smartphone and the tablet display, TDDIs grew robustly in the first quarter, but was offset by a decline of TDICs. From year-over-year perspective, both smartphone and the tablet demonstrated extraordinary sales growth, yet growth was constrained by the severe foundry capacity shortage.

Small and medium-sized segment accounted for 64.5% of total sales for the quarter compared to 63.2% in the quarter of 2020 and 46.4% a year ago. Smartphone sales continue growing in the fourth quarter, with revenues reaching $66.6 million, up 5.1% sequentially and 173.1% year-over-year. It represented more than 24% of our total sales in Q4. Our smartphone TDDI sales were up around 10% sequentially and up more than 300% compared to the same period last year. The sequential growth was due to favorable mix of both product and decline in tail. In consideration, our capacity limitation, our strategy is to prioritize our support to those customers with whom we are major supplier or have long-term business relationships. Sales of traditional smartphone DDICs fell by around 10% sequentially and were up around 20% from the same period last year. As we have repeatedly indicated traditional smartphone DDICs are quickly being replaced by TDDI and AMOLED. Our tablet revenue, one of our top sale-contributors throughout 2020 reached $67.4 million for the first quarter, another record high. The Q4 sales grew 25.3% sequentially and the 291.5% year-over-year. The tablet revenue accounted for more than 24% of our total sales in the first quarter, slightly higher than that of smartphone.

Despite smartphone have a much bigger market size than tablet, sales of our smartphone and the tablet were equally weighted for the first quarter, indicating our favorable capacity allocation toward tablet segment, a reflection of our leading position in that market.

For tablet TDDI, the sequential revenue increase significantly by over 80%. This marked the third consecutive strong quarterly increase since the initial mass production in the first quarter of 2020. It refracts the robust customer demand from the enjoyed tablet market, where we are main or sole source of the buyers to all leading end customers.

Improve the product mix with increasing shipments in high-end products with active pilots, also ascribed to the satisfactory sales growth and helped our overall margin improvement. Revenue of traditional discrete driver ICs for tablet decreased 12.3% sequentially, but increased 68.8% year-over-year in the first quarter.

Our first quarter driver IC revenue for automotive amounted to $37.5 million, up 32.4% sequentially and up 11.9% year-over-year as car maker resumed production in response to a recovery of global automotive demand from Q3 2020. However, we were unable to gear off fast enough to meet this surging demand for all customers due to capacity shortage. Automotive driver ICs accounted for more than 13% of total revenues. During 2021, we expect to further our automotive display driver IC market share from the current level of more than 30%. Jordan will elaborate on this in a few minutes.

First quarter revenue for our non-driver business was $33.7 million, up 3.3% sequentially, but down 6.4% year-over-year. The sequential increase was mainly a result of increased shipment of TCON ICs for high frame rate and the high-resolution displays as well as where -- as well as CMOS image sensor products, with strong demand coming from notebook and web camera applications.

However, the increase in sales was offset by a decrease in WLO shipments to an anchor customer. The year-over-year reduction in sales was due to a decrease in WLO shipment.

Non-driver products accounted for 12.2% of total revenue as compared to 13.6% in third quarter of 2020 and 20.5% a year ago. Gross margin for the fourth quarter was 31.2%, up 890 basis points sequentially and up 1,060 basis points from the same period last year. The much improved gross margin can be ascribed to two main reasons, favorable product mix and the industrial capacity shortage. The growth of higher-margin products notably, tablet TDDI, TCON and automotive drivers. I'll pass that of other product categories during the quarter, thereby enhancing our corporate gross margin.

The lift of gross margin for the fourth quarter also reflected strong overall demand and the better product pricing on rising material cost across foundry, assembly and testing, all undergoing severe capacity shortage. Not meeting all demand, we were able to allocate the limited capacity to the product with better margins.

Our IFRS operating expenses were $43.8 million in the first quarter, down 28% from the preceding quarter, but up 17% from a year ago. The sequential decrease was caused by negative difference in RSU expenses, offset by increased cash bonus as we reported in the last earnings call to further reward employees for the better than expected financial results and higher R&D expenses.

The year-over-year increase was result of the increased salary and the cash bonus along with higher R&D expenses. Despite a year-over-year increase in operating expenses, the operating expenses ratio was reduced from 21.4% in Q4 2019 to 15.9% in Q4 2020, reflecting our careful management over operating expenses.

Non-IFRS operating expenses for the fourth quarter were $43.5 million, up 11.8% from the previous quarter and up 18.1% from the same quarter in 2019. Reflecting higher sales and a better gross margin, IFRS operating profit was $42.2 million for the fourth quarter, with operating margin of 15.3%, up from 3.9% in prior quarter and up from minus 0.8% in the same period last year.

Fourth quarter non-IFRS operating profit was $42.5 million or 15.4% of sales, higher from $14.7 million or 6.1% of sales last quarter and up from minus 0.4% from the same period last year. IFRS profit for the first quarter was $34 million or $0.195 per diluted ADS compared to $8.5 million or $0.049 per diluted ADS in previous quarters and $1 million or $0.06 per diluted ADS a year ago. Fourth quarter non-IFRS profit was $34.2 million or $0.197 per diluted ADS compared to non-IFRS profit of $12.6 million or $0.073 per diluted ADS last quarter and the non-IFRS profit of $1.5 million or $0.09 per diluted ADS for the same period last year.

Now, let's have a quick overview on 2020 full-year financial performance. Revenue totaled $887.3 million in 2020, a 32.1% growth over 2019. In the first half of the year, COVID-19 and the U.S. sanctions on China broached out turbulence to the market. However, all business rebounded strongly throughout the second half, with fresh demand brought by the new stay-at-home economy. Among all three major product categories, small and the medium-sized display driver posted the highest growth of $67.7 million year-over-year in 2020, with sales totaling $515.7 million. Plus Leading Android tablet brands all adopted our TDDI solutions, and the global smartphone sales rebounded. We saw extraordinary business momentum for both product areas in 2020.

Revenue from large panel display driver totaled $240.8 million in 2020, a mild increase of $1.5 million year-over-year. During the pandemic, the surge in IT demand boosted our sales on monitor display drivers up by high-teens, and the notebook display driver up around 60% respectively. TV sales however declined by high single-digit year-over-year due to weakness in global TV market, which was negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak.

Non-driver products sales totaled $130.8 million, an increase of 2.9% year-over-year. The year-over-year increase was mainly from TCON, amid the growing need for high frame rate and the high resolution display, and the CIF due to the continued strong demand in notebook and the web camera for work-from-home and online education. This increase was offset by WLO as a legacy product of an anchor customer gradually decreased.

Gross margin in 2020 was 24.9%, up from 20.5% in 2019. The year-over-year improvement was mainly due to strong sales in second half and a more favorable product mix. As previously mentioned, robust demand pushed foundry capacity constraints to a more severe level, which in turn enabled better pricing.

IFRS operating expenses were $162.9 million, up $6.6 million or 4.2% compared to last year. The increase came from higher expenses in share-based compensation, cash bonus, R&D expenses as well as salary, but offset by lower traveling fee. Notably, the stronger NT dollar against U.S. dollar in 2020 contributed to around $3.9 million of operating expenses increase, because while our accounting was U.S. dollar dominated, we pay the bulk of our employees salary as well as much of our Taiwan local incurred expenses in NT dollar.

However, the operating expense ratio of 2020 was reduced to 18.4% from 23.2% in 2019, indicating our consistent management of operating expenses. IFRS operating income was $57.9 million, in contrast to a loss of $18.3 million from 2019, due to higher sales and higher gross margin. For the same reason, non-IFRS operating income was $64.4 million, an increase of $80.9 million from a loss of $16.3 million in 2019.

Our IFRS profit for the year was $47.1 million or $0.272 versus a loss of $13.6 million or $0.079 per diluted ADS. Non-IFRS profit for 2020 was $52.3 million or $0.302 per diluted ADS, up $64.4 million year-over-year from a loss of $12.1 million last year. The upswing in income was as a result of better sales and the higher gross margin, along with well-managed operating expenses.

Turning to the balance sheet. We have $201.4 million of cash, cash equivalents, and other financial assets at December 31, 2020 compared to $112.1 million at the same time last year and the $142.9 million a quarter ago. The high cash balance was mainly a result of an operating cash inflow of $67.7 million during the quarter. Restricted cash was $104 million at the end of Q4, the same as the preceding quarter compared to $164 million a year ago. The restricted cash was due to guaranteed the short-term secured borrowings from the same amount. We had $58.5 million of long-term unsecured loans as of the end of Q4, of which $6 million was current portion.

Our year-end inventory as December 31, 2020 were $108.7 million, down from $125.7 million last quarter and $143.8 million a year ago. Accounts receivable at the end of December 2020 was $233.6 million, up from $221.1 million last quarter and up from a $164.9 million a year ago. DSO was a 100 days at the year-end as compared to 90 days a year ago and a 99 days at the end of last quarter.

As highlighted in last earnings call, given the foundry and the banking capacity shortage, our inventory level will stay at a relative low level in the quarters to come.

Net cash inflow from operating activities for the first quarter was a $67.7 million as compared to an inflow of $33.5 million last quarter and an inflow of $23.4 million for the same period last year. Cash inflow from operating operations in 2020 was a $102.6 million as compared to $7.7 million in 2019. First quarter capital expenditures amounted to $0.8 million versus $1.2 million last quarter, and a $2.7 million a year ago.

The fourth quarter capex was for R&D related equipment. Total capital expenditure for the year was $5.8 million, mainly for design tools and R&D related equipment. In comparison, the capex for 2019 was $45.9 million, of which the vast majority was for the purchase of land, the construction of a new building, and WLO capacity expansion. But as of December 31, 2020, Himax has a $173.8 million ADS outstanding, little changed from last quarter. On a fully diluted basis, the total number of ADS outstanding is a $174.1 million.

Now, turning to our first quarter 2021 guidance. For the first quarter, we expect further revenue growth from the already high level of Q4 2020 in most of our business sectors. Gross margin should see another uptick, and it could reach another quarter high. For the first quarter, we expect revenue to increase by 5% to 10% sequentially. Gross margin is expected to be 37% to 38% depending on the final product mix. With the increase of both, revenue and the margin, net income should increase substantially in the first quarter. IFRS profit attributable to shareholders is expected to be in the range of $0.30 to $0.34 per fully diluted ADS. Non-IFRS profit attributable to shareholders is expected to be in the range of $0.301 to $0.341 per fully diluted ADS. Revenue, gross margin and EPS will all likely reach quarterly high during this quarter.

With that, I will now turn the call over to Jordan. Jordan, the floor is yours.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Thank you, Eric. As we highlighted before, on previous earnings call, our capacity shortage appears to be a long-term phenomenon. As we entered the year 2021, the shortage has become even more severe and this extended to back-end facilities that include assembly and testing. As a leading industry player with superior resources and engineering capability to diversify and in large vendor pool, along with long-term business relationships with both foundry and back-end suppliers. We engaged early and have successfully in securing more capacity for 2021 as compared to the level of Q4 2020, when we reached the recent peak quarterly shipment.

In addition, we are also optimizing capacity allocation among our diversified foundry suppliers by making the right products and the right steps with an aim to fully utilize the capacity accessible to us. Among the product areas for which we have secured a meaningful capacity increase is on automotive, where the global shortage for semiconductor supply is overwhelming.

We expect the total capacity available to us to increase quarter-by-quarter in 2021 and we will continue our efforts in securing further capacity.

As far as we can see, the overall semiconductor industry supply will not have any significant increase anytime soon, quite a strong demand is likely to persist longer than expected. In such an environment, Himax is a preferred supplier to work with for our sizable scale, diversified vendor pool and extensive product offerings. Our strength in a number of high-margin businesses will also help our ongoing margin improvement efforts. For example, with strong demand for tablet expected to remain or being the preferred vendor for major Android names will ensure the higher margin contribution continues. Likewise, our leading position in automotive display represents a solid support for margins as we anticipate our robust sales growth in this high margin business for the coming years.

Moreover, gross margin improvement can also come from new non-driver products, notably, our high-end timing controller, WiseEye, ultra-low power AI and 3D sensing. Again, gross margin expansion will always be one of our major business goals for this year and beyond.

Now, let us start with an update on the large panel driver IC business. For the first quarter, we expect large display IC revenue to increase by low teens sequentially. For notebook IC segment, we anticipate another impressive quarter of high growth in Q1, with continuation from previous quarters, increasing substantially from the previous quarter due to the expansion of strong demand derived from persisting remote working and e-learning.

As for AMOLED IC sales, on the other hand, we expect a sequential decline in the first quarter due to the capacity shortage as we are unable to meet all the demands. As TV sales too remains strong and TV panel shortage increases, our TV segment looks set to end the first quarter with a better than seasonal momentum of around 10% sequential growth.

Recently, we saw customers proceeding with aggressive promotion in high resolution models that require high-end drivers and Tcons, in anticipation of a sustained strong demand for home entertainment during the pandemic. However, our display driver IC and Tcon shipments are still intact by supply shortage in foundry and packaging, despite strong demand from customers.

Now, let's turn to the small and medium-sized display driver IC business. In the first quarter, we see continuous strong TDDI sales for both smartphone and tablet, with demand still surpassing supply. Foundry capacity remains a major issue that adversely impacts our shipping capability. With smartphone and tablet sharing the same foundry pool, we strategically allocated capacity in favor of tablet, as we are the dominant supplier in Android tablet every market.

For Q1 tablet sales, we expect another high single-digit sequential growth fueled by consumer demand for home working and remote learning needs as well as higher TDDI penetration. We expect Q1 smartphone sales to slightly increase by mid single-digit, in which smartphone TDDI revenue is projected to have consecutive mid-teens growth and smartphone TDDI would continue its declining trend. Tablet was one of our top sales contributors in 2020. Thanks largely to the fast-rising TDDI penetration for Android names and the strong demand driven by the stay-at-home economy.

To further broaden our product offering and solidify our market position, our tablet TDDI has moved toward higher frame rate, higher resolution and larger screen size solutions. We have also enhanced touch accuracy through our leading active stylish design for better quality handwriting and drawing. As stated before, Himax is highly committed to AMOLED technology, our development study from smartphone has extended to wearable tablet and automotive. We have some encouraging progress with this leading Chinese panel makers and we'll report in due course. We believe AMOLED driver IC will soon become one of the major growth drivers for our small and medium panel driver IC business in 2021.

Turning to the automotive sector. The global shortage of semiconductor components has brought great challenges to the world's automotive industry. As most of the world's lock-down period end, tightening foundry capacity combined, we saw this surge in orders due to pandemic demand, have left the industry facing an even more severe shortage compared to other sectors. Customers now rely on just-in-time delivery of IC components to preserve production and some reportedly already suspended production for days or even weeks.

In consideration of our season sales, sales demand at mist, high capacity shortage, we work strategically with panel makers, Tier 1s, and end customers across different continents, and have secured a large volume of foundry, capacity while managing swift production adjustment to meet customers' production schedules. By offering our supportive logistics, we hope to furlough our relationships with customers who can in turn help us accelerate our new technology into their new models going forward.

Limited by large scale supply shortages, our automotive ICs segment is expected to deliver a mid-teens sequential increase in the first quarter. With electric vehicles quickly emerging as the next big thing, we see the car market embracing new display technologies and shifting toward larger more sophisticated and higher performing displays like never before. Already the market leader in automotive display driver business, we foresee our further market share gains in the coming years in this fast-growing market. We continue to sustain our competitive position with a comprehensive product offering for advanced new features such as TDDI volumes cell touch, local-dimming, cascade topology connection, point-to-point high-speed interface bridging functions, and LTDI for large sale displays.

As a reminder, we launched the world's first TDDI design for automotive displays technology, which started shipping in 2019, with meaningful volume anticipated starting 2021. As EV grows in popularity and autonomous driving develops our technological prowess continues to separate us from peers for the next-generation display for automotive. For the first quarter, revenue for the small and medium-sized of IC business is expected to increase by around high single-digit, with demand continue into surpass supply.

Capacity shortage again remains a major factor, as our production has been unable to respond quickly enough to the unexpected revenue growth.

Now, let me share some of the progress we made on the non-driver IC businesses in the last quarter. First on timing controller. The aggressive promotion by major TV brands that I mentioned earlier will benefit our high-end TCON business as our 8K TV timing controllers as well display drivers have been widely adopted by multiple leading end customers.

Our TCON technology not only provides high-resolution, highest run-rate and better image quality, it can also enable lower power in products, where power consumption is critical. Already 5% -- already over 5% of our total sales timing controller products enjoy better margin and ASP that goes of display drivers and we expect this segment to be an extensive long-term growth area.

Our TCON revenue in the first quarter however limited by capacity shortage in IC is expected to increase by high teens sequentially. Next is a quick update on WLO. The fourth quarter WLO revenue decline, that Eric reported earlier was a result of lower shipment to an anchor customer. However, in the first quarter of 2021, sales are expected to increase substantially, thanks to resume shipments to fulfill the anchor customers' higher demand. This sequential shipment increase in the higher capacity utilization in our WLO factory will positively contribute to our Q1 gross margin.

Meanwhile, with our leading nano-imprinting technologies and diffraction optics design capability. We continue to engage and collaborate with key customers and partners for their next generation products. We focus this POS-3 sensing, AR/VR sketches, biomedical devices and others.

Notably, we are seeing more pure F-camera design activities among Android smartphone makers for 3D sensing and are making good progress by offering our of DD and ToF optical components, including effective DOEs microlaser rays and diffusers to meet diversified demand from a quite variety of customers slash partners, including digital suppliers, fuel extensive vendors, ToF module makers and smartphone OEMs.

Next, let me give you an update on 3D sensing for our non-smartphone segment. As mentioned before, we provide customers who wish to design their own structured light-based 3D sensing solution with our proprietary 3D decoder IC. Our 3D decoder can accelerate the total image processing for face recognition and offer a best-in-class security authentication.

It was already certified by the leading Chinese electronic payments standard, with requirements of accurate data decoding, timely operation and strict privacy. We have started volume shipments in the last quarter, and with decent order pipeline throughout this year and further new design sockets on the way. On the other hand, for our structured Light 3D Sensing total solution, small volume shipments are expected for business access control and biomedical inspection devices in the first quarter. More designs and engagements are progressing and we continue to receive numerous inquiries with new ideas or implications when they will occur to us.

Now, switching gears to the WiseEye smart sensing solution. As I mentioned several times on previous earnings calls, in order for our WiseEye technology to maximize market visibility and satisfy demand for emerging applications, two business models are adopted, namely, the total solution and discrete component. Total solution, we are currently -- I mean at notebook, TV and traditional applications and have received positive feedback. We expect to start a solid production ramp-up by the end of 2021. With strong efforts, we saw our subsidiary Emza and other ROEs and partners. Further engagements are on the way for more applications such as door bell, door lock, automotive and various IoT devices for industrial and commercial usage. We are thrilled about the business progress achieved.

For the other business model, where we provide key components, as reported earlier, our WE-I plus AI processor adopted Google tensorflow-like omega controller framework and has successfully demonstrated our unrivaled computing capability with ultra low power. In December 2020, we partnered with SparkFun, an online retail store, to distribute Himax WE-I plus-ish AI evaluation board, and AoS sensor modules. Developers can now access our technologies easily from smartphone, and transform their AI-enabling concept, which call for ultra-low power and computer vision AI into real products.

Furthermore, we teamed up with as Edge Impulse, which provides a leading end-to-end AI developer platform offering intuitive user interface. On Edge Impulse platform, with a single button press and within seconds, developers can now generate the latest neural network AI model and export it directly onto the WE-I plus evaluation board. The high technical obstacles developers usually face can therefore be dramatically slower.

Together with our partners, we are carrying out the wide range of promotional activities to broaden wide-sized market reach and establish direct contacts with small AI developers. As an illustration, recently, Himax and Edge Impulse jointly hosted a webinar, discussing ways to help developers get started with the world's most powerful platform that aims enabling embedded machine learning everywhere at extremely low power consumption. We will continue to aggressively pursue such online marketing campaigns going forward. We believe the WiFi offerings will start contributing to our top and bottom lines later this year. We aim to make it a major contributor to our long-term business growth.

Now, turning to our CMOS Image Sensor business update, we see continuous certain surging demands for CMOS image sensors for of camera and notebook as the new norm of virtual conferences, show no signs of receiving. However, our actual shipment has been badly capped by the foundry capacity available to us. Separately, our industry-first two CMOS sesnors support RGV Volt for video conferencing and ultra-low power AI AMOLED for facial recognition has penetrated that tough market for the more stylish, super-esteemed designs. We have shipped small hundred in the first -- in the fourth quarter and expected to ship more during 2021. Regarding ultra low power -- CMOS image sensor, which targets in battery-powered always on applications. We are getting promising feedback and design adoptions from customers in various markets such as car recorders, surveillance, smart electric meters, drones, home appliances, and consumer electronics. In Q1, the CIS revenue is expect to be up mid single-digit sequentially, although we still cannot fulfill all the demand due to our foundry capacity constraint. For non-driver IC business, we expect revenue to increase by low-teens sequentially in the first quarter.

That concludes my report for this quarter. Thank you for your interest in Himax. We appreciate your joining today's call and we are now ready to take questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

And are we ready to take questions at this time?

Mark Schwalenberg -- Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Yes.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Jerry Su with Credit Suisse.

Jerry Su -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hi Jordan and Eric. Thank you for taking my question and congratulation on the good results. I think, the first question is surrounding the industry wide capacity constraint. Can you give us a little bit more color about what is your fulfillment rate right now? And then, I think for -- in the next couple of quarters, do you think that the supply constraint can be eased for industry or for Himax? And how should we think about the pricing environment for the upcoming quarters? Thank you.

Eric Li -- Chief IR/PR Officer

Thank you, Jerry. Honestly, I'd rather not give specifics on our so called fulfill rate, because that's why all our customers will be watching and trying to compare their fulfillment rate because of the leverage. So that is kind of a sensitive topic. But I can tell you, it's not very high. Although, I have to say, sometimes you wonder whether 1% or 2% of those demands are real demands, whether they are customers inflating their demand is because of the shortage, right?

And so, I mean, obviously, we try to screen them out. We try to support those demands with foundation. But we certainly have some doubts about some of the demands. As far as whether the situation what is during the year, I think, our view is that the industrywide capacity shortage is going to last at least till the end of this year. Obviously, I'm not economist and I cannot really predict how the economy is going to evolve during this year with the pandemic and also the vaccination. So I'm putting that -- I'm setting aside and I'm assuming we are not going to see a very strong rebound during this year. And even with that assumption, I think, the capacity constraint is likely to persist for the simple reason that matured technology seemed to be -- we are not seeing any meaningful increase in capacity, while, there are just a ton of new applications queuing up to consume more of those capacities.

And we are -- I mean, our display driver IC, which always require a high output voltage and i.e. we have to use matured technology. So we are certainly one of the major users of those capacity. And from our driver ICs point of view, certainly, we are not seeing any sign of the capacity constraint receded anytime soon, certainly not within this year.

Having said that though, I think, I've kind of touch based briefly on my prepared remarks. I think, we are -- I can say we are happy, but I think we are well-prepared for the capacity of this year. And for that, I'm comparing our expected output, meaning capacity available to us, offered to us right, by our -- there are various foundry partners. So I'm comparing those numbers on quarterly basis to the number of last quarter, meaning Q4 of last year, when we reached our peak output as we all know, right?

So I'm comparing our this year's quarterly output, expected quarterly output to the highest output of last year. And even with that comparison, I think, we expect to see an increases from Q4 last year and we expect to have quarter-by-quarter increase during this year.

And very notably, I want to the emphasize, our strong hold in particular is in automotive display driver IC, where we believe we are the world market leader. We have the Number one market share and the pressure is the highest obviously as a result.

But also, that is an area we have secured the most meaningful capacity increase compared to last year. So that's very good news for us -- for our customers including growth end customers who very often has established direct dialogues with us for -- to get a better feel about the capacity increase.

And not just that, we believe, we have good -- we have a good doormat for next year as well, meaning the capacity you're consumable the increase from that of this year. So I think that is very good news for us. That kind of ensures our continuous revenue growth for this year. And I can say that pretty much the same for all other major product areas.

Only that, I can say, automotive display IC for Himax in particular, we have secured the most meaningful increase of capacity and probably with still a high degree of certainty as well.

So that's something I wish to highlight. So I -- sorry I didn't effectively answer your question directly, but I hope, I do try to give a good overall fleet and color of the capacity situation for Himax right now.

Jerry Su -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, that's great. Thank you. And then, in terms of pricing. How should we think about the pricing going forward? And then, I think you guided gross margin to improve to 37%-38% which is about 6-7 percentage point increase. How much of that is coming from ASP increase?

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

It's hard. Well, firstly, its confidential, and secondly, it's really hard to compare, because you have to note down the cost increase as well, I mean, bearing that costs also increase rather significantly, as you guys all know. So without a tracing directly, without giving you directly this number, I can share with you how -- why the marginal improvement and the how the margin outlook is going to be like going forward, at least this year, right? So firstly a capacity constraint and that certainly means better pricing position for us, right? Meaning, we can very often transfer the cost increase to customers and a bit more. And we talked about better product mix as well.

And I want to probably elaborate a little bit on that. What do we mean by better product mix? It actually come from several perspectives. Firstly, obviously, when you offer in shortage, you have a tenancy to allocate more for you output to higher margin products, to make more money, right? That's very obvious. So that's the first most obvious point.

And secondly, for similar reason. We also have a tendency -- our customers as well. Our total capacity is kept, we want to produce more higher end products and that applies to TV, monitor, notebook, smartphone, tablet, automotive, everything, right? And I think, I mean, Himax being the industry leader and our customers recognized that. So when our capacity is kept, they want us to focus more on those higher end products, while they're probably leaving those lower-end products to some of our lesser competitors. So that typically means better profit and better ASP for us.

And certainly, a few sectors which is already happening, which happens to enjoy better margins historically. They are outgrowing our other businesses. And that, on weighted average, certainly, on weighted average basis certainly, it has our gross margin. So I'm talking about automotive driver IC for one, that's very obvious tablet TDDI and timing controller, higher end timing controller.

And automotive, I think there is -- if you ask me across all different industries we are in, I would say, the sector with the highest confidence level for growth, this year I would say, you'll be the automotive which is set to enjoy a good rebound from the very low of last year. So that is going to outgrow our other businesses very likely and we happens to enjoy the best margin in our products.

Tablet TDDI as well. Now, tablet, will the tablet will enjoy growth this year is a big question mark? The pandemic and so on, right? I don't know. But I think for us, it's about TDDI penetration to tablet market, right? So last year, our estimate is TDDI penetration fell 20% last year and this year it's set to grow to about 30%.

So with the same number of total units for the market, you're talking about 50% growth for TDDI and that benefits us tremendously, because we are the dominant TDDI provider for tablet in Android market, especially more of those TDDI tablets will start to offer active stylus, which is -- they represent even more margin for us, right?

Now, higher end timing controller, I'm talking about automotive, notebook, TV certainly, and gaming monitor and so on, right? Again, TCON is suffering big time from IC packaging shortage. So for that, again both customers of us are better off, allocating limited resources to higher end products, right. So, I think for those reasons, I feel pretty good about our gross margin prospect for this year.

Longer term, I do want you guys to focus on our -- certain of our non-driver IC products. Notably, Wise, I think it's really promising. I am presently extremely excited about the progress we are making. We have our mass production ready sample out only in last September and look at the engagement, the degree of engagement, the activities that we already have.

I've told a lot about that in my prepared remarks. So I don't want to repeat that, but it's very exciting. So again the important thing is, we feel the mass production will commence toward the end of this year. And after that, I believe is a low, very long tail, low -- high-edge barrier, high-margin, high-speed products, where we are going to play a very unique role in terms of providing such AI for end devices with ultra-low power. So I think that is something I feel very good about, enhancing our long-term gross margin overall. So I hope that kind of address your questions pretty thoroughly.

Jerry Su -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Yes. Okay, thank you. Thank you, Jordan.

Eric Li -- Chief IR/PR Officer

Thank you, Jerry.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Tristan Gerra with Baird.

Tristan Gerra -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Hi, good evening. Just following up on the prior questions about the gross margin, clearly helped by mix and supply constraint. How should we look at the potential timing of peak? Some companies have talked about supply coming back in the second half of this calendar year, which presumably would elevate a little bit the constraint. There's also the potential at some point for automotive to slowdown, given that there's probably some amount of double ordering, given the tightness currently in the market.

So what I'm trying to get a sense is, when do you think -- even as supply continues to be constrained, it actually gets less constrained than it is now? And when do you think supply will eventually catch-up in automotive, meaning that you're starting to see a little bit of a normalization of supply-demand? Is there a way to assess whether that's something that may happen in the second half of this year or what timing do you have in mind potentially?

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

I think it -- my visibility is different for different product segments. And again, I just want to carry on with my previous answer to Jerry's question. The highest degree of confidence for me will be automotive sector. In which, I think there is no sign of receding. And in fact, customers backed by their end customers, while panel customers backed by Tier 1s, which are backed by end customers. They are prepared to place orders, from orders, non cancellable orders, way beyond the year-end.

And now, rather than worry about double ordering or demand disappearing, I mean, our worry is more on how do we --how do we make our shipments in order for their production line not to be suspended. It's pretty serious, honestly, pretty serious.

We are talking about -- because we don't want single driver IC that cannot ship a cup, because they will have no critical display, right? So for that, I think, the visibility is very, very low. And we are actually -- we are going through different schemes with different customers and our foundry partners.

Many of which we saw contractual arrangements to secure that throughout the ecosystem. We know what we are doing and our customers what they are doing. And we can just focus on making more outputs and securing more capacities, and making sure their production is not suspended.

So for automotive, I'm -- I honestly, I don't worry a bit, but it's certainly harder to say. For example, the IT demand, people are talking about the stay-at-home economy and all of that, right? So I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know how the demand is going to evolve with the vaccination and the COVID-19 situation and all that.

So what we do is, again, we follow the customers' production orders very closely. And one thing, our particular interest is that, throughout all different sectors, we are now having a much closer business and certainly shipment-related discussions directly with end customer. Typically, our direct customers are panel makers, right, who in different industry varies, but they are not the end customers.

But now for these notebook or TV or automotive or cellphone or otherwise, we have very direct frequent dialogues with leading customers in their respective sector. And for that, our visibility certainly gets improved, right? And sometimes you see the end customer stepping in to secure capacity and help allocation decisions.

For example, certain of our ICs should be shipped to panel maker A rather than panel maker B and so on, right? So we start -- I think, again, we don't have a crystal ball. We just have to work very hard and make sure we are as close as possible to the end customers. And through end customers and through our direct customers, we will get to have a good visibility about the backlog, the inventory level, the production status, even the demand status and all of that, right? So we just have to watch very, very closely.

But as far as we can tell, right now, at this point, the center driver IC is concerned, that's really -- we have not seen any sign of the constraint receded, because again, I mean, the demand is very strong across different sectors. But there simply no meaningful capacity increase in the industry.

Tristan Gerra -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Okay, that's great color. Thanks for that. And then, for my follow-up, a few years ago, you obviously had traction with some early leading AR device providers with very high content. You also talked about -- and that was maybe up to a year ago about opportunities in holographic displays. Given the potential for Apple to launch AR devices by next year, which presumably would trigger a lot of companies to basically have similar devices over time. How do you feel your position will take us initial engagement you think you have in both, AR and the holographic displays and what's the potential timing and that's leveraging on both, wait on lens technology and also your LCOS technology?

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Well, thank you for the questions. First that, a few years back, we pulled up all of that the loss because there was real major customers are real products. And unfortunately, the launch of those products and the business results didn't unfold very well as we all know, right?

And certainly, we continue to play a critical role in terms of providing the micro display and related optics for AR/VR gauges in particular AR, which requires these true feature, rather than VR. With VR, your eyesight is blocked by the image, but we say ICs through. So when you see through, our technology is needed. So I can say, with degree of confidence that if this does happen, if the industry does pick-up again, pick up momentum again. We are going to play a role. But I don't want to be overly optimistic about this, because I think, to be honest, I still see lots of both technical and business barriers ahead of us for the AR goggles to become a real affordable and a real fun product for people in general to want to own.

And certainly, people are talking about Apple, and I don't want to comment on customers one or the other, certainly in the Apple. And so, we'll see. But I mean, certainly, you are right. If Apple does launch something and successfully and then other people will follow certainly. But again, I can't comment the specifics on any specific customers.

But I think, I want to give a warning that we are not too optimistic about it, being the insider in the marketplace. Again, I'm seeing still barriers, both technically and technically being, how do you lower the price substantially? I mean, the lessons on the previous products are -- they're just way too expensive, right? It's way beyond anybody's -- any usual consumers' affordability.

And they are switching that into industrial use, which means very low volume, right? So for a company well scaled, it is -- it is sometimes, it cannot be something very meaningful, right? So the challenge is, how do you create the the kind of image, the size, the color, the pocket assumption, the processing power and so on, right? The kind of image that involves not just semiconductor evolves, but a lot of optics.

How do you create that kind of image that an average consumer will find attractive, and yet you have to really substantially reduce the price. And if you can achieve that, then the next barrier is, how do you create enough confidence, the relative confidence? So I think, two years I think is overly optimistic to be honest.

But again, we remain to be a key player. People do come to us still. We are still engaging with customers for our projects. But we are just -- we don't want to over-spend on those -- over investment and overspend on that sector until we feel we have a good relationship already and we just have to hunt it down and wait for it to happen.

And a lot of things is really beyond our control. We are just the same display and optics provider. We can't really cover the whole application and total cost and all that kind of issues.

Tristan Gerra -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Great. Well, thanks for the color, very much appreciated.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Thank you, Tristan.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Donnie Teng with Nomura Security.

Donnie Teng -- Nomura Securities -- Analyst

Hello. Good evening, CEO and Eric. Congratulations on good result. I think, I have two quick questions. So the first one is that, I think people are talking about how tight the capacity would be and where it'd be likely to be eased? But in the reality, for example, if we break it down to like aiding short 12-inch capacity by different products, which one you think is most likely to be used in the future?

For example, if considering the north migration as well as the capacity expansion lead time. What kind of products you think that will be most likely to be used in the future and which one would be the most difficult to be used? So this is the first question.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Okay. Donnie, it's not an easy question, it's good question, but it's not easy to answer, because, I mean fully -- I mean other than automotive which for Himax and I guess for the whole industry as well, I'm talking about display driver IC, right? Automotive, other than the automotive which is still strictly exclusively on 8-inch, all others are either totally 12-inch or combination of 8 plus 12 inch.

Now, we saw in automotive, when we are moving into TDDI which, in which, we are the industry leader, a pioneer leader at the moment. We wouldn't have expected for the next few years. TDDI automotive will be 12-inch as well. So, no. So, if we -- and then 8-inch for automotive, I mentioned earlier, A&G is extremely tight.

But because of our early engagements and the earlier, both engineer and business preparations, we have been able to secure the increase, although it's 8-inch which is super tight as we all understand. And for 12-inch, if you thought about for 12 inch, for high method, I guess for industry as well.

For smartphone and tablet TDDI, its all 12-inch, because it requires a lot of logic process in, right? And in certain cases memory as well. So, you do need the 12-inch more advanced nodes. For a large panel though, it is a combination of 8-inch and 12-inch and large panel has to move to 12-inch primarily because of capacity constraint of 8-inch, right? And that has started to take place a few years back.

So it's not that industry has started to do this because of this capacity constraint, no. A few years ago, the whole industry -- Himax certainly is one of the pioneers, has been moving very aggressively into 12-inch as a way to alleviate the capacity issue of 8-inch for all display drivers. So -- but then, when we want to, we typically represent the most matured process of 12-inch for large panel, right, for example. So we are talking about 110-nanometer as a mainstream as an example, well for some temporary TDDI, is now moving from 80-nanometer to 55 to 40 nanometer.

Certainly, there are technology, these reasons as well but its mainly to a large capacity. Now, as we move into different new nodes, we are competing against a new set of other indications, right? So for example, AMOLED for smartphone is going to be the next big thing for our display driver IC. AMOLED, now the mainstream and the mass production is 40 nanometer. But people has included are moving to 28. So with 28, where we're competing with a different set of other applications, right?

So I think it's kind of difficult to answer in a sense that we -- if 28 is extremely tight, which is not the case. I am just saying as a example. If 28 is extremely tight, they will probably then move our product spectrum for a bit more or vice versa, right?

If 40 is super tight, for 28, appears to have more assessable capacity then people will move more aggressively into 28. Driver IC is a big consuming product, capacitors, you mean product for semiconductors.

So, both does make a difference in terms of the tightness level of different technology nodes. But our move is also reactionary because when something is very tight, will they tend to move elsewhere, right? So, I think it's -- but as far as I can see, I mean even 28 right now is very, very tight.

So, you tell me who is now -- is not tight, right? And people are talking about automotive and see for example a 40 and 50 nanometer logic process. They are so occupied, so occupied by automotive right now. and I don't blame -- I can't really blame them. But obviously people are, they claim they are giving more priority to those education.

So 80 to 55, 40 and then 28, these three below five of loosening in capacity situation, I mean, in my mind. But certainly, I mean, I made my comment, my response may change next quarter. I just have to watch the industry situation very closely. But the benefit of our preparation is that we tend to have products crossing different foundries, even different geometries -- different technology nodes just to hedge our bets, right? So we will be able to move with certain degree of flexibility.

Donnie Teng -- Nomura Securities -- Analyst

So just a quick follow-up, before I ask the second question. Are there any quantifiers how much sales that we have right now is from 8-inch and how much is from 12-inch?

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

I don't have the number in front of me. But certainly 12-inch is much, much larger than 8-inch right now. I mean, again, all of them automotive, which is probably still right now above 15% or less of our total revenue although it is growing, it's outgrowing -- is probably outgrowing the rest.

So that is totally 8-inch. And certain portion of large panel, and large panel represents, large panel in total 30 plus percent of our total sales, right? And a portion of that is 12-inch and some other portion is 12 inch -- 8 inch. So 8-inch is now relatively small for us.

And a small panel, they are almost exclusively 12-inch. Other than automotive, right, I'm talking about tablet and smartphone. And that is combined more than 50% of our sales already and then you have timing controller and all others, they are all 12-inch as well.

Donnie Teng -- Nomura Securities -- Analyst

Okay, got it. And second question is on your automotive display driver business. As you mentioned, about that, you have secured quite a meaningful capacity already. I think from -- at this time point, I would say its very impressive because last year large order automotive then conducted companies that pushed all the capacity in the second half last year.

So it looks like making a decision at this time point. So could you elaborate more on what kind of trends you are seeing on automotive display driver IC? As you just mentioned the value its migrating to TDDI or if you can give us more color on how structural the growth will be or like how much volume you will grow in every call in terms of the bigger screen size or even a combination of different kind of display inside of the car? Thank you.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Very good question. Firstly, indeed, in the first half of last year, our customers are actually cutting back their orders and the forecast. And I remember, we are road showing and we are going around telling everybody, Tier 1 included even some end customers across Europe and U.S.

That don't always do that, because, guess what? You are going to be in such shortage that you're going to clear to get capacity. So -- and in fact, during Q1, Q2 last year, we actually -- although our customers are cutting back their forecast, we didn't really slow down in our inventory preparedness, because it was very obvious to us that it is going to around to set capacity shortage and U.S. also started to -- we started to engage our key foundry supplier for long-term foundry arrangement. And now it evolves both new process developments and also porting of our -- of several of our products from Fab A to Fab B to increase our visibility, where the capacity is tight in individual facts.

And certainly, also we entered into contractual arrangement to secure our capacity as well. So I think, we are -- thankfully, we make those modes and now we can go around telling our -- even end customers that we are pretty well prepared, although we are still suffering some shortage.

But I think our customers are very pleased to hear that we can actually enlarge our capacity quarter-by- quarter in a rather meaningful way, although way to next year. So I think that is very important at this stage for us. And having said that the 8-inch capacity is very tight and it is going to remain very tight and I don't have the number exactly as far as the display driver IC content consumption per vehicle, how that trend is going to unfold?

But I can share with you, now, it is common industry understanding that 8-inch is the helped this be tight. So although we can secure more -- and also automotive, unlike large panel or smartphone or tablet, which are more flexible in terms of introducing new capacities when it is needed for automotive is notoriously hard as we all understand.

So rather than fighting to get traditional discrete driver IC moving into 12 inch and having to deal with the barrier of qualification and so on, it's almost not worth it. So we are encouraging our customers to speed up their TDDI adoption, and guess what? TDDI, if 12 inch and also the kind of capacity pool, we are targeting for TDDI. Again, we have entered into our, sort of, certain contractual arrangement. We saw foundry partners. The 12 inch TDDI, our primary -- for example 82 to 55 which are basically occupied by smartphone and tablet. But they are all on track to migrate into both here 28 as we all know. So and certainly our total demand for automotive for TDDI would not -- in terms of total amount is nothing compared to that demand for smartphone or tablet. So I think, we will be pretty safe there in terms of turbine TDDI automotive.

So we are pretty well prepared with capacity over there as well. And so, that is a big trend. I think a lot of customers, end customers included agree with us. So I have seen the whole industry been mobilized to speed up the adoption and qualification for TDDI for automotive, that is one thing.

And second thing is the displays inside your cars are larger in size, with EV becoming more and more popular, the passenger room -- the passenger space will be more roomy. And when its more roomy, you do need larger screen for infotainments. And when it is such larger screen, typically, you need to -- your screen to be of the capability of free-form, meaning is that to be solid piece of flat glass.

So when it is free form, then, in-cell becomes a necessity in order to achieve a reasonable year -- production year rate for displays. And therefore we are actually, again, we are the industry pioneer in terms of working with our panel makers, partners, selected partners, in introducing, hopefully very soon, the world's first large display, a very large display, our TDDI for automotive. And I think its going to be a very important trend because again, when the display needs to be larger because your passenger room is larger. And when display is larger, then it needs to have free form, and when it is free-form -- is required, then you need to have in-cell display. And for in-cell display, you need TDDI, but that requires a very special design, as opposed to the ordinary small size display. So we are leading the industry in terms of developing that kind of TDDI. So we are, again, we are very happy with the progress. And again, because of all the reasons, I mentioned, I think in all likelihood, this penetration of such touch screen display to automotive will also get speed up.

So overall, the only thing is the most exciting business for us. We have a industry leader, we are leading in technology, and we are seeing the high growth potential. And we are now very deeply engaged with Tier 1 end customers. All of these are very good signs for us in the long term. So thank you, Donnie for the question.

Donnie Teng -- Nomura Securities -- Analyst

Thank you, sir. All right. Thank you so much, Jordan. Congratulations to you.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Thank you.

Operator

There are no further questions in queue. I will now hand the conference back over to Mr. Jordan Wu for closing remarks.

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

As a final note, Eric Li, our Chief IR/PR Officer will maintain regional marketing activities and continue to attend investor conferences. So we will announce the details as they come about. Thank you and have a nice day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 94 minutes

Call participants:

Mark Schwalenberg -- Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Eric Li -- Chief IR/PR Officer

Jordan Wu -- President, CEO and Director

Jerry Su -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Tristan Gerra -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Donnie Teng -- Nomura Securities -- Analyst

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