SAN FRANCISCO—January chip sales showed the largest year-to-year increase in more than six years as the semiconductor industry continued a run that started in the second half of last year and drove the industry to surprising growth in 2016.
Chip sales for January totaled about $30.63 billion, 13.9 percent higher than January 2016, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). Sales were down 1.2 percent compared to December 2016, however.
The 13.9 percent annual increase for January, based on a three-month-moving average for sales, was the largest year-to-year increase for chip sales since November 2010. On an actual sales basis, January sales were 10.6 percent higher than January 2016, according to Jim Feldhan, president of market research firm Semico Research.
John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO, said through a statement that the industry is off to a “strong and encouraging” start to 2017. “Sales into the China market increased by more than 20 percent year-to-year, and most other regional markets posted double-digit growth,” Neuffer said. “Following the industry's highest-ever revenue in 2016, the global market is well-positioned for a strong start to 2017."
Most market watchers—including the SIA and the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization, which compiles the sales numbers that the SIA reports—had predicted that the semiconductor industry would contract moderately in 2016. However, based on a stronger-than-expected second half of the year, semiconductor sales finished the year at nearly $339 billion, up about 1 percent compared to 2015.
In a research note circulated to investors, Ross Seymore, a semiconductor research analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities, said the January chip sales figures show “overall a solid start” to 2017, despite some pockets of softness in demand for devices such as NAND flash and CMOS image sensors.
”After a largely muted 2016 for the semi industry, we expect improving demand as 2017 gets underway and see overall solid growth for the year,” Seymore wrote. Seymore estimates that chip sales will grow 5 percent in 2017.
In addition to strong growth of 20.5 percent in China, January chip sales posted annual increases of 13.3 percent in the Americas region, 12.3 percent in Japan, 11 percent in Asia-Pacific and 4.8 percent in Europe.
However, compared to December 2016, January chip sales declined across all regions outside of Europe, which posted 1.2 percent growth. Sales were down 3.1 percent in the Americas, 0.2 percent in China and 1.6 percent in both Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, according to the SIA.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry and business news for EE Times.