Sharp Aims to Ship iPad Panels After Delay

Sharp Corp. is trying to begin shipments of its delayed new display panels for tablet computers “as soon as possible,” the company’s incoming president said Monday.

The panels are to be used in Apple Inc.’s new iPad, according to people familiar the matter. The first batch of the U.S. company’s newest tablet, released Friday, were not equipped with Sharp’s LCD panels after the Japanese company faced difficulty in customizing the screens according to Apple’s requirements, one of the people said last week.

Sharp, which makes screens for consumer electronics and its Aquos brand LCD TVs, will try to begin shipments of the panels as early as this month, they said.

Takashi Okuda, who will take over as Sharp president on April 1, spoke with reporters about delays in the company’s shipments of LCD panels without mentioning the word “Apple”–the Osaka-based company has not announced that it is a supplier for the new iPad’s display.

People familiar with the matter have told Dow Jones Newswires that Sharp is a supplier of the new iPad’s display panels, along with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Display Co.

The timing of when Sharp can start delivering the panels has been closely watched by the market, as it could impact the overall supply of the new iPad at a time when demand for the product is expected to be strong.

Mr. Okuda also said that the yen’s strength continues to be a problem for Sharp, and the dollar’s current level in the ¥80 range is “tough” for the company’s bottom line.

“Recent yen weakening is surely good, but the [current] dollar level in the ¥80 range is still tough for us,” he said.

Mr. Okuda, who currently heads Sharp’s overseas operations, also said he expects global demand for liquid crystal display television sets to stay nearly flat in the next fiscal year starting April.

Sharp’s main businesses include LCD panels, TV sets and solar panels.

The Japanese electronics maker has been struggling to turn around its business, which has been hurt by the strong yen, a lack of innovative new products and fierce competition from Asian rivals such as Samsung.

Sharp has forecast a ¥290 billion loss for this fiscal year ending March 31. That would be the biggest annual loss in the company’s 100-year history. The company said losses from TVs and large LCD panels used for TVs would result in a tax-related write-down.

Japan’s biggest consumer electronics makers– Sony Corp., Panasonic Corp. are also forecasting big losses for the year.

Sharp said last week that Mr. Okuda will become president, while current president Mikio Katayama will become chairman without representative rights.