Samsung SDI could pull out of CRTs if losses linger

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TOKYO, Oct 25 (Reuters) South Korean plasma screen maker Samsung SDI Co Ltd could pull out of cathode-ray tubes for TVs if losses continue, an executive said on Thursday.

Samsung SDI, which is trimming its CRT operations down to 15 percent of its total business by 2010, is converting CRT production lines into lines to make plasma display modules and using empty factory space to expand battery production instead.

''If we can't make profit, why should we stay in the business?'' Executive Vice President Ho Kyoon Chung told Reuters in an interview.

''We will have to pull out of CRTs eventually, anyway,'' as demand from developing nations shifts to flat screens, he said, although he added that the company will stay in CRTs for as long as possible.

Samsung SDI, which posted a net loss in the third quarter on falling prices for both plasma display panel screens and traditional CRTs for TVs, is seeking new revenue streams from smaller 32-inch plasma displays, 3-D displays and ultra-thin organic AM-OLED displays, which produce clearer images.

The company, whose low-power organic light-emitting displays are used in KDDI Corp's year-end cellphone line-up, expects its OLED capacity to be fully booked with orders from mobile phone makers next year.

It will begin mass production of bigger 10-inch to 14-inch OLEDs in 2009, he said.

''You see many prototype OLEDs, but Samsung is the only one that has been able to deliver product,'' Chung said.

Plasma screen makers are fighting to stay in the flat panel game in a market where they are outnumbered by makers of liquid crystal displays.

But even within the plasma display market, Samsung SDI has lost its place as the world's top producer of plasma displays last year, overtaken by Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and home rival LG Electronics Inc.

REUTERS SR BD1240

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