(Repeats more recently updated LG story)
By Heekyong Yang
SEOUL, July 23 (Reuters) - Apple Inc supplier LG Display Co Ltd said on Thursday it expects profitability to improve in the second half of this year as the new iPhone launch boosts demand for its smartphone panels, despite posting a larger operating loss.
"Considering the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, it is true that the macroeconomic environment is still not favourable. However, we observe that the worst is over," said Suh Dong-hee, chief financial officer and senior vice president.
The South Korean panel maker posted its sixth straight quarter of operating losses as retail stores were shut around the world during the second quarter to contain the spread of the virus.
Its loss for April-June widened to 517 billion won ($431.96 million) from a loss of 369 billion won in the same period a year earlier.
That compared with analysts' forecast loss of 449 billion won, according to Refinitiv SmartEstimate.
Revenue fell 1% to 5.3 trillion won, the company said in a regulatory filing.
LG Display said an increase in working from home and online education helped strong sales of IT products such as monitors, tablets and laptops, but it was not enough to offset weak demand for televisions as shoppers stayed home.
"LG would likely see an uptick in performance in the second half of the year as it will be supplying OLED panels for iPhone 12, but fresh COVID-19 cases, especially in North America, and possible new lockdowns is casting a shadow over the outlook," said Park Sung-soon, a Seoul-based analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.
Suh expected a "significant improvement" in profitability with an increase of shipments of smartphone P-OLED panel and OLED panels from its factory in China.
The company is starting mass production in the latter part of this year at its large-sized organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel plant in Guangzhou.
LG Display's stock has fallen more than 20% so far this year, compared with a 1.4% rise in the benchmark KOSPI market. Its earnings announcement was issued after the market close. (Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Joyce Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Kim Coghill)