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Gartner slashes IC capex forecast for '08, '09
|09 октября 2008|
Market research firm Gartner Inc. said Wednesday (Oct. 8) it expects semiconductor industry capital spending to decline 25.7 percent in 2008 and another 12.8 percent in 2009 before recovering to grow 16.7 percent in 2010.
Gartner is the latest market watcher to cuts its capital spending forecast amid a global economic slowdown and continuing overcapacity in the chip memory sector.
"Capital spending is slowing across the board, with all segments seeing a decline in capital spending in 2008 and into 2009," wrote Gartner analysts in a report. "The oversupply in memory, combined with a slowing consumer market due to the uncertain economic picture, gives little hope for an upside until 2010."
According to Bob Johnson, one of the Gartner analysts who created the forecast, the capex decline for 2008 will be the biggest for the chip industry since 2002, when capital expenditures declined 35 percent after shrinking by 30 percent in 2001.
The chip industry's capital intensity has been reset from approximately 20 percent of revenue in the late 1990s and early 2000s to about 15 percent going forward, Gartner said. This reset will have a significant impact on semiconductor equipment companies' future profitability, according to the firm.
The forecast calls for worldwide IC capital spending to be roughly $33.5 billion in 2008 and $30.5 billion in 2009. Capex will suffer a compound annual growth rate of negative 2.1 percent from 2007 through 2012, according to the forecast. The industry will not match 2007 capex of $44.7 billion through the end of the forecast period in 2012, Gartner said.
Gartner originally predicted that IC capital spending would decline 19.8 percent in 2008. The firm in July revised the predicted decline to 22.4 percent.
Revenue for the wafer fab equipment segment will decline 26.1 percent in 2008 and another 11.9 percent in 2009, according to Gartner's forecast. The firm expects the packaging and assembly equipment segment to decline 18 percent in 2008, but grow 1 percent in 2009. The automated test equipment segment will fall 26.7 percent in 2008, but grow 5 percent in 2009, according to the forecast.
The semiconductor industry needs to prepare for a prolonged downturn while the device manufacturers adjust supply to meet slowing demand, Gartner said. The firm added that it expects more mergers and acquisition activity. "The industry is ripe for consolidation, not just in the memory sector but also in the fabless and consumer sectors," analysts wrote.
Fewer equipment buyers
Equipment suppliers will have to endure a slower-than-anticipated 2009 and be prepared for potentially fewer customers to exist when the industry recovers, Gartner said.
Semiconductor unit shipments will grow by nearly 10 percent in 2008, but declining average selling prices are causing revenue growth of closer to 4 percent, according to Gartner's forecast. Long-term growth rates for the semiconductor industry have been moving toward sustained single-digit rates for some time, a trend that is likely to continue, Gartner said.
Johnson said chip industry revenue and spending should begin to recover on a quarterly basis by the second half of 2009, but that first half numbers will be low enough to drag the industry into negative growth for the year.
"The logic and mixed-signal firms have been on a gradual downturn for the last couple of years," Johnson said. "That trend would have probably bottomed out in 2008" if not for a global economic slowdown, he added.
Commodity memory revenue growth will be virtually stagnant through 2012, Gartner said, despite soaring unit volumes and continued capital investment. DRAM revenue is expected to decline 44 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2009, Gartner said. NAND flash revenue will decline 23 percent in 2008 and 22 percent in 2009, the firm said.
Gartner said it expects capital spending by chip foundries to decline 29 percent in 2008 and another 15 percent in 2009. Foundry spending will continue to be slow as the competition for leading-edge devices becomes stronger, Gartner said. Fabless companies will continue to be conservative in moving to the next-generation technology node, the firm said, in many cases skipping nodes to amortize design and mask costs over two generations.
Spending by semiconductor assembly and test services companies, which Gartner included in the total capex forecast for the first time, will decline only 10.8 percent in 2008, according to the forecast.
Late last month Needham and Co. lowered its forecast for 2009 semiconductor capital expenditures to negative 16.1 percent from negative 2.5 percent.
Last week the fab tool trade group SEMI lowered its 2009 chip capital spending forecast to a decline of 5 to 10 percent after early saying it expected it to be roughly flat. SEMI predicts that 2008 capital spending will be down 20 percent.