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Semiconductor, Electronics Outlook Murky So Far in 2013

Just what is going on in the electronics supply chain this year?

We're toward the end of quarter one, and the seasonal dropoff seems a little more extreme than usual, according to some sources. And we're hearing mixed messages about the months ahead.

Here's what we know so far.

As the quarter four numbers get rolled up, Sharon Stiefel at IHS iSuppli reports:

Among semiconductor suppliers that experienced lower inventory levels between the third and fourth quarters last year, the percentage of decrease ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent, resulting in chip stockpile value of $60 million to nearly $600 million being shaved off in the companies affected And while inventory climbed in some companies during the same period, the spread was smaller, with the value of the increase worth slightly north of $40 million to approximately $250 million.

In addition, days of inventory (DOI) for semiconductor suppliers declined 5 percent — higher than the 1.5 percent initially forecast, Stiefel reported. Inventory value in dollar terms fell more than 10 percent — much larger than the originally projected 3 percent.

That downturn came after what Stiefel called “alarmingly high” levels of inventory in quarter three.

Ready to go

Semiconductor and electronics demand is forecast to be modest in 2013,  but signs are mixed early in the year over whether that will be the case.

Semiconductor and electronics demand is forecast to be modest in 2013,
but signs are mixed early in the year over whether that will be the case.

For quarter four, Intel led the dropoff, down $585 million, or 11 percent from the third quarter, as it “deployed aggressive tactics and redirected both space and equipment to 14-nanometer lithography,” Stiefel said.

Other semiconductor vendors who slipped quarter-on-quarter:

  • AMD (-$182 million or 25 percent)
  • STMicro (-$131 million or 9 percent)
  • Texas Instruments (-$91 million or 5 percent)
  • ON Semiconductor (-$63 million or 10 percent).

Gainers for the period included:

  • Qualcomm (+$247 million or 24 percent)
  • MediaTek (+$58 million or 14 percent)
  • NXP Semiconductors (+$44 million or 7 percent)
  • Infineon Technologies (+$43 million or 6 percent).

Additional data points
Dylan McGrath at EE Times reports that the world's top PC market, China, is experiencing lackluster demand, which is taking down PC forecasts.

Avnet's monthly “Market and Technology Trends” report for February suggests nearly across-the-board pricing stability for components and reasonable lead times, with the exception of ceramic disc capacitors, which are experiencing lead times of up to 54 weeks due to capacity constraints.

Even so, Stiefel's IHS iSuppli colleague Len Jelinek sees modest growth for semiconductors, up 6.4 percent this year to $322.30 billion.

Jelinek reports:

Revenue last year had fallen to $303.02 billion, down from $310.21 billion in 2011. The projected revenue growth this year tracks with an expected 4.6 percent increase in silicon demand to shipments of 9.55 billion square inches, compared to 9.12 billion square inches last year and 9.16 billion square inches in 2011.

Chatter
But what's the word on the street? What are you seeing?

I'm hearing travel restrictions among some distributors at the moment, but decent quarters for quarter one and quarter two.

What are you experiencing? Take our poll, and let us know in the comments section!

3 comments on “Semiconductor, Electronics Outlook Murky So Far in 2013

  1. Daniel
    March 21, 2013

    Brain, so according to various market surveys what would be the outcome for 2013. I personally feel that 2013 is a good time for both semiconductor industry and supply chain, when compare with 2012. Am now in Thailand and here industrial peoples are talking in positive manner about various factors for industrial growth: unless and until effected by some natural disasters.

  2. Brian Fuller
    March 21, 2013

    @Jacob, my sense is this. 2013 will probably be a growth year for semiconductors but not off the chart. There are too many global risk factors looming, in North America, Europe and Asia. That said, housing starts in the U.S. are off to a strong start this year, which is a good indicator, and unemployment is gradually falling. 

    I think we're out of the macroeconomic woods in two years. When that happens, all the productivity shifts that electronics has enabled in the past 10 years are going to provide rocket fuel for the next growth period. 

     

  3. Daniel
    March 26, 2013

    “my sense is this. 2013 will probably be a growth year for semiconductors but not off the chart. There are too many global risk factors looming, in North America, Europe and Asia. That said, housing starts in the U.S. are off to a strong start this year, which is a good indicator, and unemployment is gradually falling. “

    Brain, what are the global risk factors in Asian countries, any particular blog for that? Very eager to know such Asian factors.

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