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Universal Display's Stalled Growth Engines Are Roaring Back to Life

By Anders Bylund – Oct 31, 2020 at 10:39AM

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The technology researcher crushed Wall Street's financial targets in the third quarter and OLED technologies are invading the consumer market.

Lighting and digital screen technology developer Universal Display (OLED 0.62%) reported third-quarter results after the closing bell on Thursday, Oct. 29. The results left analyst estimates in the dust, led by an impressive jump in sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials.

Universal Display's third-quarter results by the numbers


Q3 2020

Q3 2019


Analyst consensus


$117.1 million

$97.5 million


$90.0 million

GAAP net income

$40.5 million

$37.0 million



GAAP earnings per diluted share





Data source: Universal Display. GAAP = Generally accepted accounting principles.

OLED material sales grew 33% year over year, breathing new life in a stalled business trend. Material sales in the first half of 2020 came in 25% below the comparable year-ago period's results. Universal Display's largest manufacturing partners, South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG Display (LPL -0.36%), are running their production lines at full speed again and are introducing a number of innovative products showcasing the unique properties of OLED displays.

OLED screens can be printed on foldable materials, opening up many new product ideas. Samsung has foldable phone screens on the market today, and you'll soon be able to buy big-screen TV sets where the OLED screen can be rolled up when you're not using it. Samsung is also working with PC processor giant Intel (INTC -1.66%) and software titan Microsoft (MSFT -0.06%) to create a 17-inch OLED screen that can be used as a tablet or a monitor, but that can also be folded at a 90-degree angle to give you a smaller laptop with a keyboard on the lower touchscreen.

Transparent OLED screens can put lighting panels or important information in new places. In August, LG Display shipped transparent OLED displays to the subway systems in Beijing and Shenzhen, adding train schedules and other information to the windows of subway cars. CEO Steven Abramson expects transparent screens to show up soon in self-driving cars, smart homes, and airplanes.

A businessperson points to financial data and charts floating in midair.

Financial presentations can really look like this, thanks to transparent OLED screens. Image source: Getty Images.

What's next?

While these next-generation OLED products make their way to the global consumer market, Universal Display's technology has found a stable home in the smartphone and big-screen TV industries. Apple (AAPL -0.36%) not only included OLED screens in all four of this year's iPhone 12 models, but also highlighted the OLED screen as a significant selling point.

So Universal Display can operate from a stable financial platform with an eye toward many new markets with exponential growth potential in the coming years. The stock isn't cheap at 92 times trailing earnings and 25 times trailing sales, but it's worth every penny. We are still in the early days of Universal Display's long-term growth story.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Anders Bylund owns shares of Intel and Universal Display. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Microsoft, and Universal Display. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft and short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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