Analyst: Big shakeup in IC ranks in 1Q

May 15, 2009 – Intel and Samsung kept their wide lead on the rest of the field in 1Q09 chip sales — but for everyone else it was a tumultuous game of musical chairs, from foundries to IDMs to fabless houses, according to a new report by IC Insights.

Volatility was expected given both the industry and macro/global economic upheaval, and is expected to continue through 2Q09 at least — but now, the analyst firm predicts “strong double-digit […] sequential sales growth” for many top suppliers, rebounding from a lousy opening quarter.

Among notable performances in 1Q09, both bad and good:

  • Qualcomm moved up from 8th to 6th; IC Insights predicts “increasingly positive news” for high-end cellphone (“smartphone”) sales through the year.
  • AMD climbed three spots to 9th — but it’s one of few chipmakers expecting sales to decline in 2Q, and could slip back out of the top 10.
  • “High-flying” fabless IC firm MediaTek, which jumped five spots to enter the list at No. 25, was the only one to actually grow sales during the quarter vs. 4Q08 — an impressive 16% — partly attributed to demand for digital TVs and wireless communications sectors, which the analyst summed as a “stay-at-home-economy” trend.

Who didn’t do so well in the quarter:

  • Top global foundry TSMC sunk six spots, since most of its sales are to fabless IC suppliers which are notorious for their contributions to inventory buildups and burn-offs. The past two quarters have been a “hellacious” inventory burn period, with 1Q09 sales less than half what they were in 3Q08, the firm noted. Still, it expects a big bounceback in 2Q09 with sales up as much as 89% sequentially to $2.2B — which would make TSMC the third-biggest semiconductor supplier on the planet.

  • Both NXP and Nvidia fell out of the top 20 rankings in 1Q09 (down six spots and two, respectively). But again, IC Insights anticipates “a significant rebound” for both companies, perhaps enough to vault them back into the top 20 rankings again.

      Top 20 semiconductor sales leaders (US $M), 1Q09. (Source: IC Insights, company reports)


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