WSTS chops chip estimates through 2010

Nov. 18, 2008 – Joining the rising chorus of industry watchers ratcheting down their forecasts, the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) says it sees semiconductor sales growth slowing to a crawl in 2008, and then crumbling into decline in 2009.

According to the WSTS’ year-end report, semiconductor sales will tally $261.937B in 2008, representing 2.5% growth from 2007, vs. initial expectations of 4.7% in the WSTS’ May update, mainly attributed to “a weak expected fourth quarter.”

The current economic situation is expected to dent sales well beyond the holiday purchasing season. The WSTS, which had anticipated growth to climb slightly to 5.8% in 2009, now sees a -2.2% contraction, thanks to the worldwide economic crisis. A return to growth in 2010 also will be less than anticipated, at 6.5% vs. the WSTS’ spring forecast of 8.8%.

Despite continued demand for electronic products (PCs, digital consumer appliances, mobile communications, and even auto applications), “these trends are expected to unfold in a challenging, yet generally healthy world economy,” noted Ulrich Schaefer, worldwide chairman of WSTS, in a statement.

Not surprisingly, a big chunk of the money taken out of the WSTS’ updated outlook is from the memory sector. WSTS memory sales totals for 2008 are $49.08B, representing a -15% slide, vs. the -5.5% slide to $54.65B expected in May. But that’s just the beginning — in 2009 the WSTS’ previous outlook of $59.95B, a 9.7% recovery, has been swung to $46.75B and a -4.8% retraction. 2010 is still seen as a pickup year, though, not as much as had been expected (+10.2% to $51.54B, vs. +13.9% to $68.27B).

By the WSTS’ numbers, some segments are actually faring better in 2008 than thought: Optoelectronics (13.3% growth to $18.01B, vs. a projected 10.4% increase to $17.55B), sensors (+5.7% to $5.42B, vs. a -1.2% decline to $5.07B), analog ICs (+3.2% to $37.60B, vs. 1.9% to $37.14B), and logic (14.5% to $77.06Bvs. 13.4% to $76.29B). But nobody will escape what is seen as an across-the-board decline in 2009 (see table below).

By geography, the Asia-Pacific region actually should do better than expected in 2008 (+7.6% growth vs. May forecast of +5.2%), thanks to both the dynamics of rising domestic demand and the continued shift of manufacturing to this area. All other regions, though, are being punished (Americas -8.2%, Europe -0.6%, Japan a scant 1.2%). And in 2009 all regions are seen suffering, with losses extended in the Americas (-9.8%), Europe (-3.6%), and Japan (-3.8%), and Asia slowing to just 1.1% annual growth. Look for a return to positive growth for all sectors in 2010, though again, slightly less than had been anticipated.


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