Japan's beleaguered Sharp, a regular Apple LCD supplier, generated its first quarterly net profits in two years during the December quarter — its first under the management of Apple's main assembly partner, Foxconn.
Sharp turned $37.14 million in profits, a vast improvement over the $219.5 million it lost in the Dec. 2015 quarter, Reuters reported on Friday. The company in fact raised the profit forecast for the whole of its fiscal year — ending in March — from $228.4 million to $331.5 million.
Under Foxconn, Sharp has been consolidating production lines, streamlining distribution, and exploiting new parts procurement abilities, allowing it to cut down on expenses.
At the same time the company is said to be benefiting from reduced LCD production by Korean firms, leading to industry shortages and higher prices.
Sharp is spending hundreds of millions on switching to OLED manufacturing, presumably with Apple in mind as a major customer. It's not expected to have any serious production capacity until 2019 however, which may relegate the bulk of any near-future Apple OLED orders to Samsung.
Apple is rumored to be shipping an "iPhone 8" or "iPhone X" towards the end of 2017, possibly using a 5.8-inch "fixed flex" OLED display by Samsung.
Apple and Foxconn are weighing the possibility of a $7 billion display plant in the U.S., allegedly because demand for bigger panels makes production there most cost effective than transporting from China. The companies are also likely worried about U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatned to make it more expensive to import Chinese products.