Another great article on Nitto Denko. Compare Nanoco's partners to Nitto who is the leader in film sales and development?
Nitto Denko Corp Follow
Japanese smartphone supplier turns focus to cars
Maker of optical film for electronic screens expands into new industries as mobile growth slows
AUGUST 23, 2015 by: Kana Inagaki in Tokyo
As Apple and Google consider entering the automotive market, it is the niche technology of a little-known Japanese player that may come in hot demand.
Japanese suppliers such as Nitto Denko, the world’s biggest maker of optical films used on Apple’s iPhone screens, are rushing to expand sales for parts used in cars to offset an increasingly mature smartphone industry.
“We’re collecting information on what the next-generation car would look like,” says Hideo Takasaki, president of Nitto Denko.
“We are already in contact with current auto makers and new players (such as Apple and Google) on what technologies we can bring,” Mr Takasaki adds.
Founded in 1918, few consumers even in Japan know the name of the Osaka-based company that started out making electrical tape. Yet Nitto Denko controls about 40 per cent of the global market for optical films or polarisers for liquid crystal displays, and its technology is embedded in an Apple iPhone or Samsung Electronics television. Its product line-up tops 13,000 items in 70 sectors.
Buoyed by strong iPhones sales, Nitto Denko, which is 43 per cent owned by foreign investors, has seen annual sales grow 32 per cent to Y825bn ($6.6bn) while its net profit hit an all-time high of Y78bn in the previous fiscal year. Profits are expected to grow another 14 per cent this year.
Nitto Denko and other Japanese parts makers in Apple’s supply chain have thrived even as the country’s better-known consumer brands such as Sony and Panasonic were relegated to the backseat in sales of smartphones and television.
Yet parts and material groups are similarly exposed to price declines with the commoditisation of TVs and smartphones, and are vigilant about finding new applications and markets such as cars and healthcare.
“We need to cultivate customer ties with top leaders in the industry, and make sure we get information on their next product ahead of our rivals,” says Mr Takasaki. “If we stand still, we’ll face only commoditisation and price competition.”
Jefferies recently revised down its sales forecast for Nitto Denko’s polarising films and touch panel materials by 5 per cent due to weaker outlook for smartphone sales in emerging economies. The brokerage expects the price decline in polarising films to exceed volume increase within two years.
Finding alternative revenue sources will be critical with Nitto Denko generating about half of its annual revenue from optical films for electronics products. Its automotive business accounts for 14 per cent.
The Japanese chemical company mainly competes with global rivals such as 3M of the US and Germany’s Henkel in the area of automotive tape, a product with growing popularity as automakers scramble to make their vehicles lighter and more cost efficient.
Its adhesive tape, for example, is used to reinforce thin steel panels of vehicle doors, and to absorb vibration and noise.
Nitto Denko aims to boost sales of automotive tapes from Y114bn to Y150bn by the fiscal year ending in March 2018. Analysts expect an annual growth rate of about 6 per cent. To meet growing demand, the company has built new plants in Brazil and India, and added production lines to existing factories.