SAN FRANCISCO—Steve Appleton, chairman and CEO of memory chip supplier Micron Technology Inc., said Wednesday (March 23) that Micron had yet to determine the company would pick up or lose business due to lingering infrastructure problems and other effects from the March 11 earthquake that rocked Japan.
Dozens of electronics product and supply production facilities have been knock off line in the aftermath of the quake due to damage, continuing infrastructure issues, rolling power outages and other issues. Analysts are still trying to sort out the long-term supply chain disruptions, and there is particular concern for the supply of things such as silicon wafers and bismaleimide triazine resin, a key material for the packaging of some ICs. Many analysts believe that any supply disruptions will be limited and temporary.
Appleton said production disruptions at some of Micron's competitors may work in the company's favor. But, on the other hand, problems suffered by the company's customers in Japan and elsewhere stemming from disruptions in the supply chain could hurt demand for Micron products, he said.
"I know people are trying to determine whether it's a positive or a negative for Micron, and unfortunately, I can't answer that for you," Appleton said on a conference call with analysts following the company's quarterly earnings report Wednesday. He added that no Micron employees were injured in the disaster.
Micron competitors based in Japan, Elpida Memory Inc. and Toshiba Corp., have fabs in the affected areas. U.S.-based competitors SanDisk Corp. and Spansion Inc. also have chips manufactured in Japan. Other than Toshiba, all have reported that the quake will have minimal impact on chip production, though several production lines stopped for a time.
Micron operates one fab in Japan, a 200-mm specialty DRAM facility in Nishiwaki, Hyogo prefecture, near Osaka. Appleton said the fab sustained no damage or production disruption from the quake. A Micron design center and a sales and support office in the Tokyo area were closed for a time following the quake, he said.
Though most competitors reported recovering manufacturing operations quickly after the quake, Appleton said the disruptions would clearly cause some impact on the supply of memory.
"Those of us in the memory business know that all you have to do is have a couple of hours of a problem and it takes you several weeks to recover," Appleton said. "So there's going to be an impact on the supply side."