SAN JOSE, Calif. The new global chip figures for August indicate that there are still mixed signals in the semiconductor industry.
On Thursday (Sept. 30), the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) here said worldwide sales of semiconductors rose to $18.2 billion in August, exceeding expectations of $18 billion (see Sept. 28 story) and 34.2 percent ahead of the equivalent figure in 2003 (see Sept. 30 story).
On the other hand, there are troubling signs amid an inventory correction in the marketplace. Overall, semiconductor sales growth slowed in August, but average selling prices (ASPs) grew 2 percent month-over-month, said Satya Chillara, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets Inc. (San Francisco), in a report.
Total IC volumes, excluding DRAMs, were down 1 percent to 8.5 billion units in August over July, while ASPs strengthened by 3 percent to $1.51, he said. "Volumes continue to be healthy, tracking well ahead of our 16-20 percent growth estimate in 2004 [and] up 24.2 percent year-to-date to 66.4 billion units," he said.
NAND-based flash memory shipments accelerated sharply in August over July. Volumes were up 8 percent to 50.7 million units in August, with ASPs down 5 percent, following Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s recent move to drop prices, according to RBC.
"The data supports our belief that Samsung dropped prices aggressively early in the quarter to burn off excess inventory," he said.
On the wireless front, DSP shipments bottomed in August. Volumes were down 2 percent to 58.2 million units in August, after posting a 9 percent decline in July.
"We believe weakness is focused primarily in GSM, while CDMA remains relatively strong," he said. "While China continues to be an area of concern due to excess inventory and slowing economic growth, we are encouraged by August data that inventory issues should largely be resolved sometime in Q4."
Meanwhile, image sensor shipments posted their first sequential decline for the year, down 4 percent to 91.7 million units, according to RBC.