SAN JOSE -- A delay in the PC upgrade cycle, SARS, and other factors stalled the worldwide semiconductor industry in April, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) Friday (May 30).
"Sluggish global economic growth and the Chinese SARS outbreak caused a deferral of sales in April to future months," said SIA President George Scalise, in a statement. "In the U.S., an anticipated corporate PC upgrade cycle, expected to add strength to continuing consumer purchases of PCs, has again been pushed back, as executives cite continuing economic uncertainty and reduced visibility."
Scalise's comments reflect the IC industry's growth rates for April. Global semiconductor sales growth slowed more sharply than expected in April, according to a report from Reuters earlier today, which cited the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) group as its source.
Worldwide sales of semiconductors totaled $12.1 billion in April, 2003, sequentially unchanged from the $12.1 billion in revenue reported in March of 2003 and a 9.7 percent increase from April 2002 revenue of $11.3 billion, according to the WSTS (see today's story ).
The figures from WSTS were leaked to the media Friday morning. The SIA, which re-packages the WSTS figures, was not expected to release those figures until next week.
But in a hasty release issued today, the SIA, as expected, put a positive spin on what was a disappointing month for chip makers. "There are some positive indicators in the market," Scalise said. "Leading edge capacity utilization reached 97 percent in April, essentially full capacity, and inventories are at or below target levels. Any pick-up in demand will translate directly to revenue and profit growth."
Sales in the Asia-Pacific market, the world's largest with 36 percent of total chip consumption, rose 11.6 percent year-over-year in April, and sales in Japan, with a 23 percent share, rose 28.9 percent.
Sales in Europe, the world's third largest market with a 21 percent share, rose 9.7 percent in April, while sales in the Americas, with a reduced 20 percent market share, fell by 9.4 percent, as the electronic equipment industry continues to shift production, design services and component sourcing to facilities in Asia.
In the first three months of the year, the global wireless sector had brisk growth, led by record numbers of new subscribers in Asia and rapid adoption of new functionality, according to the SIA.
Consumers in China purchased 20 million handsets during the first quarter of 2003--or 6-to-7 million units per month. However, handset sales and production levels in China fell in April, as the spread of SARS brought shopping and consumer spending to a standstill, according to the trade group.
However, sales of digital signal processors used in cell phones fell 9.8 percent during the month, as units fell 11.7 percent. Flash memory grew less than 1 percent for the month, according to the SIA.
Microprocessor revenue fell by 1.3 percent in April, while DRAM revenue was off 5.1 percent. Other sectors, such as application specific standard products for wired communications, grew 6 percent and optoelectronics grew 2.5 percent.
The SIA's Global Sales Report (GSR) is a three-month moving average of sales activity. The GSR is tabulated by the WSTS organization, which represents approximately 66 companies. The moving average is a mathematical smoothing technique that mitigates variations due to companies' monthly financial calendars.