May 1, 2006 – Japanese manufacturers of semiconductor production equipment suffered their first slowdown in three years during fiscal 2H05 (ended in March 2006), but a surge in demand in the second half of the year kept the losses to a minimum, according to new data from the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ).
Worldwide sales of chipmaking equipment dipped 5.1% in 2005 to 1.517 trillion yen (US $13.33 billion), while orders were up a fraction to 1.565 trillion yen ($13.76 billion). Demand showed a stark contrast in the first five months of the fiscal year (10%-40% declines in orders and sales), followed by 7%-70% increases in orders to close the year, with flat to 14% higher sales. For the year, orders for wafer processing equipment, by far the largest segment, dipped 6.5%, but was offset by 15%-4% increases in demand for mask/reticle, assembly, and test equipment.
In March, 55%-66% increases in test equipment demand led to a 15% boosted in overall orders from February, mainly due to demand from China. Total sales rose by 14% from the prior month, as sales of wafer processing equipment nearly doubled to close out the fiscal year.
Domestic orders and sales of Japanese semiconductor manufacturing equipment also rebounded in fiscal 2006, ending up with a 6.9% increase in orders and 9.3% increase in sales from fiscal 2004. Nearly all of the increase in orders came from test equipment, while sales of wafer processing and test equipment both saw double-digit year-on-year increases.
During March, domestic orders were down 20% year-on-year due to a lull in wafer processing equipment demand, while sales rose 24% with demand increasing across all segments.