[Photo by Kolon Industries Inc.]
South Korea’s chemical company Kolon Industries Inc. having closed the first quarter with the best earnings in five years is on track for even stronger growth led by patented colorless polyimide (CPI) film optimal for foldable smartphones.
Kolon Industries disclosed Monday that it registered 69.1 billion won ($61.6 million) in operating income for the first quarter ended March. The figure is the best since 2016 and exceeds the consensus estimate by 25 percent. Its income rose 14.25 percent from the previous quarter and more than doubled from a year earlier.
Sales came to 1.09 trillion won, down 4.9 percent on quarter but up 10.2 percent on year.
Kolon Industries shares closed Tuesday 0.97 percent higher at 62,700 won.
Its brisk performance was mainly led by CPI film sales.
The company upon releasing its first-quarter earnings announced that it has supplied CPI film for Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Fold smartphone. The Chinese firm already released 300,000 Mi Mix Fold smartphones based on Kolon Industries’s CPI film with a plan to produce a total of 500,000 units this year.
The CPI film is a thin, transparent plastic film used as display cover for mobile devices such as smartphones for protection. It has been quickly adopted by smartphone makers for foldable models, as the CPI film is bendable and more price competitive than ultra-thin glass.
Currently, the Korean firm’s CPI film occupies 90 percent of foldable display material market in China. While the global foldable display demand is projected to expand from 3.3 million units in 2021 to 41.1 million units by 2021 according to display market researcher Display Supply Chain Consultant (DSCC)’s 2020 report, CPI’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to top 60 percent since China is responsible for a bulk of global demand.
Chinese smartphone makers are in rush to release foldable models. Oppo and Vivo are said to be close to launching their foldable models.
CPI film is considered to have high technological barrier. Kolon Industries began developing the CPI film in 2006 and succeeded commercial production 11 years later after investing over 100 billion won. Its CPI film is patented.
By Won Ho-sup and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]