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While Japan is a major source for the lithium-ion battery cells used in portable electronics, manufacturers there report relatively low damage to manufacturing. That, combined with excess capacity outside the quake area and a 45-day inventory at leading battery pack manufacturers means that the impact of the quake on the battery market should remain limited, Morgan Stanley wrote.
Production of a few key raw materials used for manufacturing flat panel displays has been disrupted, but panel makers have a few weeks of inventory and so may be able to weather the disruptions for the near term, reported analyst firm DisplaySearch in a Tuesday blog post.
Those materials include Nitrogen Triflouride (NF3) gas used for cleaning chemical vapor deposition chambers in TFT LCD, semiconductor, and amorphous silicon thin film solar cell production; Indium Tin Oxide used as a transparent conductor in TFT LCDs and touch screens; green pigments used for color filters; and connectors for power and graphics signals in LCD modules, DisplaySearch wrote.
"In most of these cases, panel makers are holding at least a few weeks of inventory, giving them some time to locate alternative sources," DisplaySearch wrote.
System builders are watching the component supply and pricing situation, but for now report little impact from the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
One system builder, who requested anonymity, said that so far only memory suppliers are reacting to the quake by increasing prices or holding up shipments.
However, the system builder said, there are questions about whether component supplies or supply chain issues could impact the release of some upcoming products. For instance, he cited the upcoming release of new 3-TB hard drives from Seagate, which rely on materials made in Japan, or the iPad 2, production of which depends in part on Japanese memory.
CTL, a custom system builder which imports a lot of components from China, Taiwan, and South Korea, sent a survey to its suppliers after the quake to get information on the impact to their output, said Erik Stromquist, executive vice president of the Portland, Ore.-based company.
"We've been seeing some delays in the 'ingredient' parts in LCD panels," Stromquist said. "Suppliers told us we can expect some prices to go up, and some delays. And memory prices shot up after the quake, but are now stable."
Overall, the impact to component supplies has been limited except for the memory prices, Stromquist said. "But in the long term, component prices will go up," he said. "So we have been increasing inventory."
Stromquist said CTL is also seeing concerns from its customers. "We're getting pressures from some of our overseas customers asking for statements," he said.
Glen Coffield, president of Cheap Guys Computers, a Longwood, Fla.-based custom system builder, said he has seen no supply issues with motherboards or memory, and that prices are still fairly stable.
However, Coffield said, prices sometimes act contrary to what might be expected. For instance, when oil production was curtailed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, oil prices fell, but then rose after the clean-up and production restarted. "Sometimes, it's like someone is out there playing with billions of dollars," he said.