LONDON Market leaders lost out in the supply of silicon wafers to chip makers in recession-hit 2009, according to market research company Gartner Inc (Stamford, Conn.). Worldwide silicon wafer demand in 2009 was $7.23 billion, down 38.5 percent in comparison with 2008, the company said.
The market was hit by a collapse in the first quarter, and although there was an impressive rebound in the second quarter, the market never made up for lost revenue.
During 2009, the top two vendors of wafers lost market share, partially due to the recession-caused sluggishness of wafer demand, as well as the decline in 300 mm wafer prices.
Shin-Etsu Handotai and Sumco maintained their respective positions at No. 1 and No. 2, but their revenue dropped more than 40 percent in comparison with 2008, due to the combined effect of plunging wafer demand and a sharp drop in 300 mm wafer prices. As a result, Shin-Etsu lost a 0.9 percent point share, as its market share fell to 32.4 percent. Sumco's share decreased 3.5 percentage points and its market share was down to 29 percent.
Siltronic saw a 32.9 percent decrease in sales, which was below the market average, because its sales loss in the South Korean market was relatively limited, which allowed it to gain share. As a result, the company boosted its share by 1 percentage point and comfortably secured third place.
LG Siltron (a newcomer) was ranked fourth. The company held its rate of sales decline to an annual 27.6 percent, which allowed the company to gain 1.3 percentage points in market share.
MEMC Electronic Materials (ranked fifth) retreated from fourth place in 2008, although it managed to keep its sales decline below the market average, at a decrease of 36.5 percent. A small gain in overall share was not sufficient to fend off LG Siltron.
In 2010, silicon wafer demand is expected to show a strong recovery in response to the resumed growth of device production accompanying the improvement of macroeconomic conditions and the shift to inventory buildup.
Silicon unit demand will grow more than 30 percent, compared with 2009.
Alternatively, there are not enough signs of improvement to produce price upturns yet.
The wafer market environment in 2010 is characterized by the juxtaposition of the upward demand, reflected in a shift from recovery to growth, and the lack of a strong price recovery.
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