Elpida takes 2Q DRAM crown

August 25, 2009 – A 50% surge in sales and rebounding pricing made Elpida the poster child of the DRAM market in 2Q09, according to data from iSuppli. And the overall DRAM market appears to underscored the belief that 1Q09 was the bottom of the current market-cycle trough.

Sales at the Japanese memory supplier rose to $745M from $497M in the prior quarter, as ASPs spiked by nearly a third, thanks to expanded sales of higher-priced specialty DRAM sales (vs. commodity memory) in mobile and consumer applications, noted Nam Hyung Kim, director and chief analyst for memory ICs and storage at iSuppli, in a statement.

Overall the DRAM market did pretty well too, surging 34% to $4.5B, compared with a -19% decline in 1Q09. Per-MB DRAM prices jumped 18% — far beyond iSuppli’s forecasted 2.6% increase and “unusual” in a market that typically sees prices decline in each quarter, Kim added. Unit shipments (MB-equivalent) also surged, up 14%, more than doubling the firm’s 6.2% expectations.

Others performing well during 2Q included Taiwan’s Winbond Electronics (+99% to $87.6M) and Nanya Technology (38.1% to $237M). Other results on the top-10 list were mixed: South Korea’s Samsung and Hynix both enjoyed >30% sales bumps, while Micron’s ~30% wasn’t enough to prevent a little marketshare loss (to 13.9% from 14.3%). Note that new partners Micron and Nanya fare comparatively well vs. everyone else in a Y/Y comparison, only down ~-15%, which Kim says reflects “seriously striving to increase their scale to become more competitive in the market.”

What to watch for in 3Q and beyond? Delayed migration to the 5x node due to limited capex (nobody’s yet making money again) will translate into a continued shortage of DDR3 lasting through year’s end, which already “has been making PC OEMs panic,” Kim writes. Some are turning back to DDR2 (which Intel’s current chipsets support). Price increases will decelerate, but tight supplies and even tighter profit margins for PC OEMs will rule even through most of 2010, he warns.

DRAM supplier revenues, 2Q09 (US $M).


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