Gartner: Few unscathed in worse-than-thought 2008

April 13, 2009 – A month ago Gartner pegged preliminary 2008 capex at a -25% slide to ~$33.46B. Turns out the firm was about $3B on the high side — its “final” tally just released pegs semiconductor capex in 2008 at just $30.7B, down -31.7% from 2007.

With the combined impact of memory oversupplies and then a demand crash across the entire industry, 2008 will go down as “one of the worst years in the history of the semiconductor capital equipment industry,” noted Klaus Rinnen, managing VP for Gartner’s semiconductor manufacturing research group, in a statement.

Gartner’s final tallies are similar to those posted by VLSI Research last month, though their numbers also included system sales/support. There was little change among the top 6 firms, though growth declines varied as some tool types and suppliers did notably better than others. Lithography segments, for instance, rode demand for 193nm DUV immersion steppers, sinking -25% (-29% for track tools), better than the industry average. ASML leapfrogged TEL as the No.2 company in Gartner’s rankings thanks to this trend.

In backend segments, packaging/assembly sunk -24.5%, with more traditional die-level packaging taking the brunt of it (-30%+ Y/Y for interconnect and die bonder sales), while advanced packaging lithography and wafer-level packaging tools “eked out growth.” SoC test and RF test “remained strong” in the automated test sector, which overall gave back more than 31%; not surprisingly memory test demand plunged -60%. (VLSI in their rankings noted that Teradyne’s performance was largely due to its early-year acquisition of NexTest.)

Looking for good news after yet more handwringing? Gartner’s initial outlook for semiconductor capex was just a 13% drop in 2009. That’s less than half as bad as 2008!

Top 10 worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment vendors (US $M). Data includes revenue from acquisitions in 2008 for the entire year; 2007 data is before acquisitions. Growth is organic as well as through acquisitions. (Source: Gartner)


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