Chip manufacturers have not been able to switch their wafer fabs off fast enough and excess semiconductor stockpiles in the global electronics supply chain are likely to nearly triple in the fourth quarter, according to market research company iSuppli Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.)
In the fourth quarter of 2008, excess semiconductor inventories could increase to $10.2 billion in value, up from $3.8 billion at the end of the third quarter. At the beginning of the dot.com bust, iSuppli measured $13.4 billion in excess inventory, which took two years to work down to manageable levels.
The current inventory build-up is due to a sudden collapse in demand at the end of Q3. The near-tripling of inventory is having an impact on semiconductor pricing, revenue and profitability and is likely to delay the semiconductor industry's recovery when demand rebounds, iSuppli said.
For most of the period since the dot-com recovery, more than 80 percent of excess semiconductor inventories have been on the shelves of chip suppliers. This is set to change in Q4, with $4.23 billion or 41.5 percent of the excess inventory now being held downstream of the semiconductor suppliers. This will result in at least 2 percent reduced semiconductor growth in 2009 that has not been factored into most people's forecasts, iSuppli said.
The near-tripling of excess semiconductor inventory throughout the electronics supply chain in the fourth quarter will significantly extend the time necessary for the semiconductor industry and contract manufacturers to benefit from any recovery in demand. It also will wipe out several additional percentage points of growth from the semiconductor industry in 2009.