World Cup a "unique catalyst" for LCD TV sales

For investors in Samsung Electronics and LG.Philips LCD, the two biggest producers of liquid-crystal displays for televisions, this year's FIFA World Cup may be about to kick off. "I'm bullish on TV-related stocks," Kim Jun Ki, a fund manager at Hanwha Investment Trust Management in Seoul, told Young-Sam Cho of Bloomberg News. The World Cup "should spark positive sentiment on the sector."

The 64 matches in Germany starting on June 9 between 32 national teams probably will draw 30 billion viewers, according to FIFA, soccer's governing body. The 2002 World Cup, hosted by Japan and South Korea, bolstered sales at companies like Sharp, the biggest producer of LCD televisions.

Sales of LCD and plasma screens will rise 31 percent to US$ 47 billion next year, according to iSuppli, a research firm in El Segundo, California. Global LCD TV sales are set to rise 39 percent to US$ 33 billion next year and plasma TVs are predicted to climb 14 percent to US$ 14 billion. That will outpace the 5 percent jump in overall TV sales in 2006, according to estimates by iSuppli reported by Bloomberg.

The World Cup may be a "unique catalyst" for LCD TV sales, with the increase concentrated during the first half of the year, Ron Wirahadiraksa, chief financial officer at LG.Philips, said in October, when the Seoul-based company reported third-quarter financial results.