I wish all of you a Happy New Year.
To open this new year, I would like to offer a few words of greeting.
Last year, forecasts indicated a significant downturn in demand for LCD panel and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, after record-setting markets in 2004. In fact, the market remained largely stable, and the adjustment has been relatively minor.
Last year, we launched many products. Our new flat panel display manufacturing equipment included Vertical Wet Cleaning and Stripping Equipment and the PI Inkjet Coater Equipment, while new semiconductor manufacturing equipment for 300mm wafers included the Single Wafer Dry & Wet Complex Machine and Flip Chip Bonder. We also introduced manufacturing equipment for next generation optical discs and for the repairing of next generation displays. All these innovations met a high evaluation in the market place.
Alongside new products, we promoted our continuing policy of selection and focus by transferring our robot business to the Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd., and acquiring Honda Electron Co., Ltd.’s semiconductor inspection equipment business.
In promoting our growth strategy, we increased our holding SCK Co., Ltd. to 80%, a move that will strengthen our business in Korea. From this year, the company will become Shibaura Mechatronics Korea Corporation, and we will initiate full-scale manufacturing in Korea.
In coming years, flat panel LCD and plasma TVs are expected to average annual growth rates as high as 40 to 50%. With the continued advance of digitization and growing demand for large, flat screens, the market for flat panel TVs is expected to surpass one hundred million units by 2010. We can also expect progress in another key area: this new year will see the launch of the next generation optical disc, another move that will provide a big boost to the market.
The Shibaura Mechatronics Group, building on its business foundations as “The Infrastructure Provider of the Digital Age,” aims to “one-of-a-kind company” that leads the world’s manufacturing business.
I look forward to your continued support this year.