MUNICH, Germany Strong customer demand and the effects of stimulus packages in China helped to partially iron out the dent in the global semiconductor market. Against this background, market researcher Gartner has lifted its revenue forecast to minus 17 percent for 2009. Earlier, the experts predicted a decline of 22.4 percent. But reasons persist to remain cautious.
According to the market watcher, the world's total semiconductor industry will achieve revenues of $212 billion in 2009. While this still is significantly lower than in 2008 when the industry sold chips and transistors for $255 billion, Gartner sees a very positive response from customers to price reductions offered by device vendors under the pressure of the crisis. "Consumers reacted strongly to reduced PCs and LCD TV pricing as price elasticity as amazing," said Gartner research vice president Bryan Lewis. Short-term demand got another boost from stimulus packages in particular in China.
This demand in turn boosted semiconductor revenues in the second quarter. With Intel's sales up 12 percent sequentially and Samsung selling 30 percent more, memory prices rebound and so did PC production.
Nevertheless, the upturn won't suffice to entirely compensate for the hefty decline in Q4 2008 and in Q1 2009. Gartner thus expects that the decline will remain in the double-digit range for the entire year 2009.
For ASSPs as the largest chip market segment, Gartner now predicts revenue of $57.2 billion, 16.5 percent below last year's level. Memory makers will see sales of $41 billion, 13.5 percent less than in 2008. And the micro component sector which comprises microprocessors, microcontrollers and DSPs is still expected to decline by 19.2 percent with a total of $39.4 billion.
For this reason, Gartner seems to be far from being sure that the crisis is over. In particular foundries are concerned the demand may fall back again. "The fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 will be extremely important in shaping the annual growth for 2009," Lewis said.
Against the background of the overall scenario, Lewis remains skeptical. For Q1 2010 he predicts a decline of 5 percent as the most likely scenario. Seasonal patterns however will help the industry in Q4 2009 to perform better and expose an albeit small positive growth year-on-year.
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