Well, that was anticlimactic. Universal Display Corporation (OLED 0.61%) just announced mixed first-quarter 2015 results, and really offered no big surprises for the market to digest.
Quarterly revenue fell 17.5% year over year, to $31.2 million, which translated to net income of $1.3 million, or $0.03 per diluted share. Analysts, on average, expected Universal Display to achieve net income of just $0.01 per share, but on slightly higher revenue of $32.2 million.
Breaking it down
Universal Display's top-line miss was driven by a 24% year-over-year decline in material sales, to $26.8 million, and partially offset by a 146% increase in royalty and license fees to just under $4.4 million. Primarily to blame for the former was an expected decrease in host material sales.
At the same time, higher volumes of red and green emitters -- driven by OLED display introductions -- were offset by volume pricing discounts. That's fair enough: More attractive volume pricing was a primary factor leading LG Display (LPL 1.99%), for example, to sign its new long-term license and material-supply agreement with Universal Display earlier this year.
Investors should also keep in mind that no licensing revenue was recognized this quarter under UDC's agreement with Samsung Display, under which Samsung is currently set to pay Universal Display $30 million in both the second and fourth quarters of this year. No royalty revenue was recognized under the new LG Display agreement in the first quarter, either. According to UDC's press release, "[T]hese revenues are recognized one quarter in arrears when the royalty amount is reported to us."
During the subsequent conference call, Universal Display CFO Sid Rosenblatt confirmed that will happen in the second quarter. So it looks like investors will need to wait and see how LG's impending ramp in production of OLED televisions will contribute to UDC's ongoing royalty revenue stream.
But that won't be the only driver of revenue going forward. "As the year progresses," Rosenblatt insisted, "we expect the continued proliferation of OLED adoption in the marketplace to drive revenue growth in the second half of this year."
That's another fair assertion. In LG Display's recent first-quarter conference call, it reaffirmed its plans to manufacture 600,000 OLED TV units this year, and 1.5 million in 2016. In addition to a bevy of other new OLED products and the LG Display agreement, Universal Display has already signed two other license agreements so far this year with Sumitomo Chemical and OLEDWorks. Both revolve around the development and manufacturing of OLED-based lighting products, the relative efficiency, aesthetics, and design flexibility of which I've already argued could revolutionize the global lighting industry over the long term.
On Cupertino, guidance
Universal Display didn't offer any significant updates on Apple's long-term plans to incorporate OLED into products other than the Apple Watch. However, during the conference call, UDC CEO Steve Abramson did single out DisplayMate's review of the OLED display in the Apple Watch, saying it "provides very nice, pleasing and accurate colors and picture quality, and is a very good side-by-side match to the iPhone 6."
Finally -- and with the caveat that "many variables can have a material impact on its growth" -- Universal Display left its previous guidance unchanged. For reference, that guidance calls for a "base" revenue forecast of $200 million, with downside range of roughly 5% ($190 million) and upside potential of around 15% ($230 million). Analysts continue to expect 2015 revenue of roughly $211.9 million.
In the end, the market might frown upon Universal Display's revenue miss this quarter. But any disappointment there should be more than offset by both Universal Display's bottom-line beat, and its explanatory comments regarding volume discounts and the extra quarter's wait for LG royalties. All things considered, nothing has changed with regard to Universal Display's long-term story, so I have no problem continuing to hold tight to my own shares.