LONDON The three-month average of worldwide sales of semiconductors was $18.43 billion in March 2005, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), up 2.2 percent from the February level of $18.04 billion and up up 13.2 percent from the same period in 2004. The SIA forecast a flat second quarter but hinted that it would soon raise its forecast for 2005 annual semiconductor market growth.
The SIA's Global Sales Report (GSR) is tabulated by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization as a moving three-month average to reduce the swings due to reporting effects from different companies. And as a result the three-month average for March also measures the "actual" sales for the first quarter, which were therefore also up 13.2 percent.
The rise in the March three-month average displayed a continuing, but gentle, softening of the chip market's growth rate. The three-month average for February 2005 was 15.8 percent higher than February 2004 three-month average sales of $15.59 billion, however the SIA said that in a typically quiet first quarter this performance was encouraging.
"Worldwide sales of semiconductors continued to outpace forecasted levels in the first quarter of 2005," said SIA president George Scalise. "The first quarter is historically a relatively weak one for the microchip industry. The unexpected strength of semiconductor sales, with 13 percent growth over a very strong period a year ago, is a good sign for the industry."
The main factors underlying the industry's relatively strong first-quarter sales were higher than expected sales of wireless handsets, personal computers, and consumer electronics. "Consumer spending on electronics was stronger than historical patterns for the first quarter despite reports of declining consumer confidence," said Scalise. "Overall GDP growth of 3.1 percent in the first quarter reflects underlying strength of the U.S. economy, although this number was slightly lower than the 3.5 percent growth expected by some economists.
"We expect sales in the current quarter will be flat to nominally higher than the first quarter. As we reported last month, our earlier projection for flat sales for the year as a whole now appears to have been overly cautious," Scalise concluded.