Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, May 2009, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. Those interested to know more about this report should contact Future Horizons.
This will be followed by the update for June, and I am speaking with Malcolm Penn to find out more!
“At $14.085 billion, March’s IC sales were up 28.4 percent versus February, equivalent to plus 2.7 percent on a five-week month adjusted basis. Whilst this still puts the market down 31.2 percent versus March 2008, the momentum that started in January 2009 continues to steadily gain traction.
Overall, the ICs in Q1 were down just 13.4 percent in value, comprising a 19.6 percent fall in units offset by a whopping 7.8 percent gain in ASPs. At the total semiconductor level, sales came in at $17.271 billion, up 27.1 percent on February (1.7 percent on a 5-week month adjusted basis), slightly higher than our $17.019 billion April Report estimate.
Q1 was thus down only 15.7 percent on Q4, sizeably better than our 18.5 percent estimate. This is good news for industry… ‘ah but’ say the sceptics!
During our January 2009 International Forecast Seminar, we took the view that, from an economic recovery perspective, things would stabilise during the first half of the year, starting to gain traction by the end of 2009, given the dramatic economic stimuli since September 2008. The recovery would then accelerate quite fast in 2010-11, i.e. following a similar pattern as to what happened after the 2000 dot-com crash. There is every reason to believe this will still be the case.
Until recently, the big industry problem was uncertainty but there have been no horrible surprises now for several weeks and things do seem like we are bumping along the bottom. The global economy has stabilised; there have been no new gut-wrenching surprises and the ‘unknown unknowns’ in the economy have subsided. This means we are now left facing the ‘known unknowns’, which is clearly something that industry can adjust to and deal with.
Despite its severity, there are also many mitigating circumstances. At the personal level, this recession is quite like no other. For those without a job, or on short-time working, it is clearly bad news as no one is currently hiring. But, those with a job ironically have never been better off, with inflation, mortgage interest rates and repayments (the single biggest expense item on the personal expense budget) at rock bottom levels. This is very unlike the past recessions, which were accompanied by high inflation and cripplingly high interest rates.
Another factor is that no one really knows how much of the current GDP shrinkage (and for that matter the previous five-years above average growth) is (was) smoke and mirrors. With CDIs valued at 1.2x total world GDP in 2007 only to be written down to junk bond status the following year, the absolute GDP and growth rate numbers have been compromised. That makes it hard to judge what they mean from a top down perspective, more so when one considers the total electronics manufacturing industry’s contribution to world GDP is barely 3 percent.
Finally, even though cars, mobiles, PCs etc may fall in unit terms by ’15-30 percent’ this year, that still means ’70-85 percent of the market’ remains. With inventory levels everywhere in the value chain at all-time lows, we are currently back now building to demand from newly bought components, albeit some 20 percent lower than the 2008 highs.
At the chip level, the market is obviously driven by the economy but it also has its own drivers, especially capacity and ASP trends. Thus, whilst the existence of a link between the chip market and the economy is clear, mathematically the nature of this link is imprecise. Dislocations in growth dynamics are thus relatively frequent.
What then of our January 2009 quarterly growth pattern (Q1 -18 percent, Q2 -2 percent, Q3 +12 percentand Q4 +3 percent)? Clearly Q1, at -15.7 percent, was better than forecast which, if the rest of the growth pattern continues as planned, would rein in the full year market decline slightly from -28 to -25.3 percent, but still within the forecast margin of error. Q1 has thus reinforced, not altered, our January prognostications.
If Q1’s stronger momentum however carries through into Q2, Q2 would come in much stronger than our 2 percent decline, say to plus 2 percent instead. This would positively change our forecast dynamics with a further two percentage points improvement on the full year’s number, improving our forecast from -28 percent to -23.2 percent. Whilst we are not yet prepared to call for a formal forecast revision, the odds are in its favour and the downside forecast risks dispersed.
Clearly Q1 was the cyclical bottom; from here on out the growth trends will be up. Once the inventory purge is over, excess capacity will soon be absorbed with a corresponding strong recovery in utilisation rates. Given capex is currently at an 18-month all time low, with no near-term correction in prospect until late Q3-Q4 at the earliest, the industry will enter 2010 staring into a new net capacity famine.
We definitely will be revising our 2010 forecast up, from the current +15 percent to the mid-to high twenties.
The table C1 shows the quarterly semiconductor equipment sales trends for the period Q1-2008 through Q1-2009 inclusive. The total Q1-2009 equipment sales were $3,235 million, down 31.4 percent from Q4-2008, which in turn was down 28.1 percent from Q3-2008. This represents the biggest sequential falls in the history of the chip industry.Source: Future Horizons
Wafer processing equipment represented 76 percent of the total, just slightly higher than its 75 percent average. Total Q1-2009 investment represented only 7.3 percent of the quarterly semiconductor sales, although it must be remembered that an equipment sale in Q1-2009 will not produce incremental semiconductor sales until three quarters later, namely Q4-2009.
Q1-2009 wafer fab equipment sales were down a staggering 69.4 percent on Q1-2008, the fourth consecutive quarterly high double-digit drop, with further declines in the prospect. Capex levels are now running at levels not seen since the early 1990s when the overall chip market was one-third its current size.
As mentioned earlier, Q1-2009 was down 31.4 percent versus Q4-2008, on top of the three previous quarterly declines of 28.1 (Q4 vs Q3), 16.3 (Q3 vs Q2) and 25.8 (Q2 vs Q1) percent respectively. It should not be forgotten that these cutbacks were not triggered by the current chip market recession; the first two quarterly drops, namely Q2 and Q3-2008, took place against a backdrop of strong IC unit growth, i.e., well before the Q4-2008 chip market collapsed.
The cutbacks were a clear intent to engineer tight capacity, a strategy that would by now have bitten home were it not for the cruel interruption on the Q4-2008 market collapse. We have never before seen such an extensive cut back prior to a collapse; ironically this will help the recovery process, albeit for the wrong reasons. It will also underpin the underlying strategy — post recession IC capacity is going to be tighter than tight.
We also tracked the total semiconductor equipment sales by month since January 1988, both in absolute value and as a percent of semiconductor sales. One significant feature that can be seen from these trends is that the absolute value of the total semiconductor equipment sales has been significantly lower than the previous 1999-2000 investment peak, despite the fact the total semiconductor market has expanded in size.
During this same time period, the investment trend relative to the size of the total semiconductor market has also been trending well below its long-term 16.75 percent average, despite this being a period of heavy 300mm conversion.
The corresponding data for the Wafer Processing equipment sector, shows an increasing trend as a percent of semiconductor sales. This trend, however, is not a sign of excess investment, rather that the wafer processing portion is gaining overall market share, currently at around 75 percent of the total equipment spend, up from around 60 percent in the late 1980s.
We also tracked the total capex spent as a percent of semiconductor revenues on an annual basis since 1990-2008, and data but for the total semiconductor equipment spend. We also tracked the relative relationship between the wafer processing and total semiconductor spends.
These show that a higher proportion of revenues are being spent on the wafer processing sector, a trend that we believe is likely to continue.
We believe that the current levels of capex expenditure are unprecedentedly low and cannot be wholly accounted for improvements in productivity and factory loading. Even if they are, these gains are one-off improvements; once they have been realised there is no more gain in prospect and expenditure levels will return to ‘normal’ trends.
We tracked the wafer processing equipment spend versus the corresponding increase in capacity on a quarterly basis since Q1-1999 but with the capacity increase delayed by three quarters.
Once the three-quarter slippage in introduced into the equation, the overlay of the two curves, whilst not perfect, is a very good fit. In short, it takes three quarters for increases in wafer processing spend to translate into new capacity. This is the time it takes to hook up and calibrate the kit and make it volume production ready. Add to this an additional one-quarter delay through wafer fab and assembly process, the net result is a one year delay from wafer processing spend to incrementally more IC shipments out.
Adding in a further one-quarter lead-time for equipment delivery, results in a typically 15 month delay for an existing clean room structure from wafer processing investment decision to increased unit sales, one year longer still if a new building is required.
These long lead-times, however, have a positive side in that one has excellent visibility three quarters out into how much additional capacity is due to come on stream, just by analysing the front-end capex spend numbers. Once the frontend
capex is committed, the addition capacity is inevitable, needed or not, the difference being determined by the capacity utilisation number.
One is thus making an investment decision based on a unit demand forecast 12 months down the road, which would not be so problematic were demand more predictable.
As can be seen, however, from the unit sales charts in the Market Summary section of this report, IC unit demand fluctuates violently from its underlying long-term ten percent per year annual growth rate on a month-by-month basis, quarter-by-quarter basis, not withstanding the inevitable — and unavoidable — routing inventory adjustments.
The biggest single problem with semiconductor capex is thus both the long time delay from investment decision and additional IC units out and the non-linearity of the month-by-month unit demand. It is this mismatch that gives rise to the investment uncertainty. Getting the investment timing right, however, is not an exact science; there are bound to be ongoing capacity mismatches within this overall favourable trend.
Entering 2009, the current new capacity investment is trending well below the long-term trend, and is projected to slow even more so in 2009 as the economic recession bites home. This means over-investment is not going to accentuate the current industry downturn, as has so often happened before.
This time it seems investment has been deliberately slowed in order to improve the return on capital employed. The seeds have also been sown for the next market shortage in 2010-11. Foundry wafer prices will rise; dust down the ‘makebuy’ Excel spreadsheets … the ‘fablite’/IDM debate dynamics has yet to run its course.”
The Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) recently held its 2011 Summit. Estimating the global semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA agrees with Future Horizon forecasts stating that 2011-Q3 will be flat (+/- 1 percent), and that 2011-Q4 will show a slight decline (-1/-2 percent) with total year growth of 1 percent as compared with growth of 2010 +32 percent.
Pasquale Pistorio, honorary chairman, ST Microelectronics, who spoke at SSIA’s Summit, described expectations for 2012 as including a low first half, followed growth of +8 percent and 2013 growth of 22 percent. “The industry will reach the elusive $400 billion mark in 2013,” noted Pistorio. The global semiconductor market will be $313 billion in 2012.
Meeting semicon industry challenges
According to the SSIA, the semiconductor industry challenges going forward include:
* Industry growth in an uncertain market: The semiconductor industry is cyclical – and this poses challenges. “Excessive investment in inventory during expansion or economic slowdown, or both, has been the way of life in this industry,” said Pistorio. “The semiconductor industry is characterized by big market swings. In 2001, the swing was +69 percent. Now is a new swing. This is the first correction of this decade. This is the nature of the industry – this is business as usual.”
* Growth of emerging semiconductor companies: With semiconductor startups declining in number and VCs becoming more and more hesitant to invest funds in getting them off the ground, a different approach is needed to enable these innovative entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in the semiconductor market.
To encourage growth in this sector, SSIA will become involved in a semiconductor-focused company incubator to guide the creation of growth of Singapore- based fabless semiconductor startups; create an SSIA emerging company board with a focus on better meeting the needs of emerging semiconductor companies and facilitating coordination with established Singapore semiconductor companies; and coordinate with Singapore government agencies and the Economic Development Board on infrastructure support initiatives for emerging semiconductor companies.
Asian semiconductor industry worth $177 billion in 2012
Estimating the Asian semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA said that Singapore plays a significant role in the overall. The Asian semiconductor market is expected to be $177 billion in 2012. According to SSIA projections, the 2012 Singapore semiconductor market will be approximately $44.6 billion.
Year 2010 was a record year for Singapore’s electronics industry. The industry attained historic highs in both manufacturing output and value-added. Electronics manufacturing output grew 26.9 percent in 2010 to reach S$89.9 billion, far surpassing the global industry growth of 9.3 percent. The electronics industry was also the largest contributor to Singapore’s 2010 GDP from the manufacturing sector, with its share of GDP increasing to 7 percent from 5.7 percent in 2009.
The strong growth of Singapore’s electronics industry was enabled through industry transformation. Over the years, the electronics industry has transformed to manufacture higher value-added products and R&D. This is illustrated through two main sectors – semiconductors and data storage.
Singapore’s semiconductor industry posted a nominal growth of 49.8 percent, outpacing the global semiconductor industry’s 32.5 percent growth in 2010. As a result, Singapore’s manufacturing output share of global semiconductor revenues increased from 11.2 percent in 2009 to 13.5 percent in 2010.
May 2010 global semicon update: Four quarters of sequential growth, yet still no one believes! Wake up, says Future Horizons
March’s total semiconductor sales came in at $26,533 billion, slightly above our February expectation, closing the quarter at $69,181 billion. This was up 2.8 percent over Q4-2009 and one of the strongest first quarter performances ever in what is normally a negative growth quarter. We have now had four straight quarters of industry growth, yet still no one believes in the strength of the recovery!
Of course, something unexpected can always go wrong but the industry fundamentals have never been better aligned. Just as 2001 ushered in the conditions for the so-called the perfect (semiconductor) storm, 2010 is now wallowing in the inverse effect. Surprisingly, few firms are tough. Most are too timid, too cautious or too scared. Welcome to the brave new world of semiconductor company ambivalence and life-threatening risk aversion. “Hello”.
Future Horizons presented its review and forecast for the global semiconductor market on the first day of their ongoing 19th International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010 in Dresden, Germany, May 6-8. Our overall prediction was that the 2010 chip market would have a barnstorming year; only a disaster of the Lehmann Brothers scale could now derail the market.
The overall five-year forecast presented was:
This would take the industry to around $300 billion in 2010 with a CAGR of 11.8 percent between 2010-14. It would also signal a 180-degree reversal in the industry’s fortunes following its ‘zero growth’ 2000-09 lost decade of growth. Moreover, despite the apparent bullishness of these numbers, given the now unavoidable 2010-11 fab shortage, the growth upside for 2010-12 is still huge.
The real tragedy however of what ought to have been good news for the industry was: (a) still, no one believes in the numbers; and (b) it was entirely predictable.
We first presented this forecast in January 2009, at the high point of the industry’s economic and business uncertainty. The only change we have made in the last 17 months was to increased 2010’s growth number from 15 to 31 percent number. Whilst all other industry analysts, business leaders, trade associations and economists alike wrestled with what was happening, we alone never lost faith in the industry or what the underlying fundamentals were saying.
This cycle’s forecast was the easiest we have ever had to make. All we had to do for the IEF meeting was to adjust for the fact that the 2009 recovery was faster and steeper than even we had dared to predict. The bottom line? The industry fundamentals may often get distorted by events but they never lie, ignore them at your peril.
We were ridiculed for our optimism in January 2009 and throughout the year when we stuck to our guns. We never stopped believing in the numbers however and never subscribe to industry fashion, trend or sentiment, despite this sometime being out on a limb with industry consensus.
We are proud of the fact only we got this analysis right but equally sad that no one had the courage to listen. This was not forecast luck either; this was simply doing what we do best, making a considered analysis and then believing in what the forecast tells us.
According to Malcom Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, 2010 — a barnstroming year — will likely see the global semiconductor industry grow by 31+ percent. He was delivering the company’s forecast at the ongoing 19th International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010 in Dresden, Germany, which ends here tomorrow. He said it would take a disaster of the scale of Lehmann Brothers to derail this now!
Some of the other forecasts made by Malcolm Penn include:
* 2011: +28 percent; based on: peak of the structural cyclical boom (could stretch into 2012).
* 2012: +18 percent; based on: normal cyclical trash cycle starting 2H-2012 (1H-2013?).
* 2013: +3 percent based on: market correction in full flow (could be negative, cap ex overspend and inventory build depending).
* 2014: +12 percent; based on: start of the next cyclical recovery (single digit, if 2013 is negative).
The forecast track record of Future Horizons is quite interesting. As per forecasts made during the IFS2010 in Jan.2010, the chip fundamentals was said to be in very good shape. The industry was starting its recovery with shortages. Also, the ASPs had already stopped faling. The inventory levels were at an all-tme low. Finally, the capacity was tight, and spending, weak!
All of this added up to two years of very strong growth in prospect. Penn had said: “It doesn’t get much better than this. But, despite what the numbers say, still no-one believes beyond the next quarter! “Ah but” is still driving the industry consensus!
Industry fundamentals don’t lie — believe in them or die! The capacity famine was instigated two+ years ago — well before the crasj, today’s shortage was inevitable. The recovery dynamics will continue to strengthen. Future Horizons’ forecast is now +31 percent ~$300 billion. The next trash dynamic has still not yet triggered. It is unlikely to happen before 2011, meaning, 2012 impact. However, the economic uncertainty remains the biggest risk. Also, the global financial system is fundamentally flawed. Read more…
ISA Vision Summit 2010: Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 unveiled; great opportunity for India to show we mean business!
The much awaited Karnataka Semicon Policy was released today at the ISA Vision Summit 2010 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA, and chairman and CEO, Sagitaur Ventures India Pvt Ltd, and other dignitaries.
Way back, on 25 July 2008, it was first mentioned that Karnataka could have its own semicon policy, as announced during the ISA ExCite event that day. The state semicon policy has taken own time coming — a little over 18 months!
Well, better late than never! The Indian state of Karnataka now has its own semiconductor poilcy, which was unveiled today at the ISA Vision Summit by the IT Department, Government of Karnataka, along with the ISA.
Karnataka’s target: $120 billion by 2020
Prior to the policy’s release, B.V. Naidu said: “The ISA welcomes the Karnataka Semicon Policy and we are happy that most of our recommendations to the government have been considered. This policy will play a significant role for achieving $120 billion electronic system design and manufacturing industry to grow in Karnataka.”
This means: of the national target of $400 billion by 2020 set by ISA for the Indian semiconductor industry, the Karnataka state is expected to achieve 30 percent!
Karnataka semicon policy features
Am very sure a lot of you are very keen to know about the policy! Presenting the salient features of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.
* To encourage setting up of semiconductor units in tier-2 cities, other than Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, an incentive of investment-promotion-subsidy would be provided in accordance with the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide additional amount of Rs. 25 crores, toward 26 percent contribution to the KITVEN (Karnataka IT venture capital fund) IT Fund for raising funds from the market to assist startup semiconductor units engaged in design and embedded software.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide financial assistance to firms for filing IP in accordance with the incentives provided in the industrial policy.
* Govt. of Karnataka will provide assistance of 50 percent of the total cost toward purchase of proposed equipment for augmenting the Orchid Tech Space in the STPI to a Characterization Lab. The remaining funds would come from the industry or mobilized through PPP business model. This Lab will be a one-stop solution for hi-tech facilities and will spur growth of R&D in future technology without financial burden to budding entrepreneurs.
* ATMP units will be encouraged with special incentives in the proposed ITIR near BIAL (Bangalore International Airport), Bangalore. (Special incentives for ITIR to be announced separately).
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide all encouragement and assistance to the solar PV manufacturing units under the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy.
* To encourage setting up of ATMPs in the state, Govt. of Karnataka would provide incentives to units set up in the state by lowering the threshold investments for ATMPs/ecosystem units with investments above Rs. 400 crores and up to Rs. 1,000 crores. Incentives would be provided on a case-to-case basis approach based on specific employment potential.
* As a policy support, to encourage innovation and R&D in chip design, product development, telecom, etc., the Govt. will set up a fund known as ‘Karnataka Fund for Semiconductor Excellence’ of Rs. 10 crores. This fund will be available to the private companies covering up to 50 percent of their R&D expenses, subject to a limit of Rs. 10 lakhs per unit. This financial assistance would be subject to repayment of 10 percent of the profit (after tax) annually for a period of 10 years. Preference would be given to fresh engineering graduates by identifying talent through projects submitted in the college and start-up companies.
* A committe comprising of representatives of VTU, ISA, industry, scientists, and financial institutions would be set up to monitor the activities and functioning of the fund.
* Karnataka Power Corp. and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd would take steps to develop solar farms on joint ventures/PPP mode in Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur and Bellary districts.
* Govt. to set up a focused school under IIIT at a cost of Rs. 10 crores and strengthen the research labs in the institute at a cost of Rs. 5 crores with a contribution of 25 percent from the industry.
* Fiscal incentives would be provided to semiconductor units as per the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
— Investment promotion subsidy.
— Exemption from stamp duty to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Concessional registration charges to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Waiver off conversion fine to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Exemption from entry tax to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Incentives for export oriented enterprises for MSME, large and mega projects.
— Subsidy for setting up ETPs to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Interest free loans on VAT to large and mega projects.
— Anchor units subsidy to first two manufacturing enterprises with minimum employment of 100 members and a minimum investment of Rs. 50 crores.
— Special incentives for enterprises coming up in low HDI districts for large and mega projects.
— Interest subsidy to micro manufacturing enterprises.
— Exemption from electricity duty to micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Technology upgradation, quality certification and patent registration for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Water harvesting/slash conservation measures to small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Energy conservation, small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Additional incentives to the enterprises following reservation policy of the state.
— Refund of cost incurred for preparation of project report for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
Now, let’s take a look at what the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 achieved and areas that need clarity! Read more…
Future Horizons has revised its 2009 global semiconductor industry forecast to -14 percent growth (+/- 2 percentage points). This was revealed by Malcolm Penn, Chairman & CEO, Future Horizons, while delivering the company’s forecast at the ongoing 18th International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, which ends here tomorrow. “He said, “It’s all about good management … only the bad times tell!”
Some of Penn’s other forecast summaries include:
* Economic recovery is said to have already started from 2H-2009.
* Further ‘50 percent’ cap ex reduction.
* Memory price recovery 2H-2009.
* Still lots Of blood on the road near-term
* Strong will get stronger as weak go to the wall.
* Watch for tight capacity starting 2H-2009.
* Crisis is the time to implement change (brings out the best and worst).
* R&D/new products/sound marketing will win (not counting pencils and scrapping the free coffee).
Outlook for 2010 and beyond
Penn also presented the company’s outlook for the global semiconductor industry for 2010 and beyond. These include:
* 2010: +19 percent based on: continuing recovery momentum (NB … this could be a lot, lot higher).
* 2011: +28 percent based on: peak of the structural cyclical boom (NB … this could stretch into 2012).
* 2012: +18 percent based on: normal cyclical market correction starting 2H-2012 (1H-2013?).
* 2013: +3 percent based on: market correction in full flow (NB … this could be negative).
The year 2014 could well see the start of the next cyclical recovery! Given the impending 2010 fab shortage, the upside for 2010-12 is said to be huge.
The 2009 forecast – how did we do so far?
First, let’s look at the 2008 forecasts:
Q4-08 Forecast (Jan): -22.5 percent, making overall Year -2.3 percent
* Q4 (Dec) Guidance: (Intel -20 percent, Nvidia -40/-50 percent, Broadcom -20percent/-23 percent. TSMC -30 percent, Others –20/-50 percent-ish
* Q4-08 Actual: -24.2 percent, making 2008 YoY -2.8 percent (both slightly worse).
Now, on to the 2009 forecasts:
* 2009 forecast (Jan): -28 percent.
* Q1 -20 percent (continuing Q4’s decline, but at a slower rate).
* Q2 -2 percent (market settling down and decline bottoming out).
* Q3 +12 percent (normal, but slightly subdued seasonal and structural growth).
* Q4 +3 percent (normal 4th quarter seasonal slowdown).
* Q1-09 Actual: -15.3 percent (better than Jan. forecast). Jan., not March, saw start of correction to Q4-08’s over-reaction.
* Q2-09 Actual: +16.9 percent (Much better than Jan. forecast). Also, Q1 (not Q2) was the trough with a strong April-June rebound.
* Q3-09 Outlook: +12 percent (No change In Jan. or Jul. forecast). The Q2 inventory correction spurt over with ‘normal’ seasonal growth.
* Q4-09 Outlook: +3 percent (No change in Jan. or Jul. forecast). The normal 4th quarter seasonal slowdown.
2009 Forecast (Jul): -14 percent (Much better than Jan. forecast/no change from Jul.). Minor downside risks (Q3 +8 percent and Q4 +2 percent. making year -16 percent). There is a significant upside potential (Q3 +16 percent and Q4 +4 percent, making year -12 percent).
What’s changed since January’s IFS2009?
According to Malcolm Penn, Future Horizons’ ‘Rose Glass’ scenario came true! He said: “We correctly forecast the pattern of the recovery. The rebound came one quarter earlier than expected.” Given below is a snapshot of what’s happened since the IFS2009 in January.
In January, the world was reeling from Q4’s unprecedented collapse with December peppered with last minute Q4 downward guidance warnings. Everyone was affected – from Intel downward, the collapse was a total meltdown and completely across the board – covering all markets and regions.
Next, there was absolutely zero visibility into the first quarter guidance. Many firms refused to even comment. Some said, “We Simply Have No Idea!” Others offered such a wide range of options that the guidance was meaningless.
The December’s WSTS results (released early Feb.) showed December (and hence, Q4) slightly worse than the Oct/Nov momentum at -24.2 percent (vs. –22.5 percent). The March’s WSTS results (released early May) showed March (and hence, Q1) slightly better than the Jan/Feb momentum.
In brief — from meltdown (Q4-08) to stabilisation (Q1-09) and rebound (Q2-09) in three quarters — even for the chip industry dynamics, this was unprecedented, said Penn.
I will be adding more here, a bit later… stay tuned!
Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, July 2009, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. Those interested to know more about this report should contact Future Horizons.
Figure E1 shows the 12/12 worldwide monthly growth rates for IC sales in dollars, units and ASP for January 1997 to May 2009 inclusive. They need to be looked at in conjunction with the other 12/12 and rolling 12-month charts provided in the Market Summary section of this report.
Following hot on the heels of April’s 16 percent month-on-month sales growth, May grew a further 0.9 percent sequentially (0.4 percent for ICs), putting June on track to break through the US$20 billion barrier, for the first time since the chip market collapsed last September.
It would also set up Q2-09 to show 18 percent quarter on quarter growth, joining only three such precedents in the history of the industry when such a strong second-quarter growth spurt has occurred. The big question now is: “Is this the start of the chip market recovery or a blip on the statistics radar screen?” The short answer is both, the industry’s not out of the woods yet, but the chip market will recover faster than the economy. The stage is now set for a strong market rebound in 2010-11.
We are clearly in the midst of a serious industry recession but different from all previous historical precedents. As we have counselled before, going into this recession (the 12th in the industry’s 60-year history) the industry was in structurally good shape; that is something that has rarely happened before.
In addition, while the economy clearly drives the overall market for semiconductor devices, the correlation is poor meaning chips march to their own drum not just the economic pulse. Both of these factors mean that the chip market can (and will) recover much faster than the economy as a whole.
With the benefit of hindsight, the whole world clearly over-reacted to the 14 September 2008 Lehman Bros collapse, something again with hindsight the US officials probably now regret letting happen, and the massive destocking that followed masked the underlying residual demand. For sure markets too were down but they only declined not evaporated completely. The impact on IC unit demand was a victim of this uncertainty. Read more…
Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, April 2009, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. Those interested to know more about this report should contact Future Horizons.
This will be followed by updates for May and June, and I am speaking with Malcolm Penn to find out more!
“February’s IC sales were up 4.3 percent on January, down 26.5 percent on the same time last year. If March behaves true to historical norms, we can expect to see sales up 26 percent on February, at 14.3 billion (on a calendar month basis), equivalent to plus 0.8 percent, four-week month adjusted.
This would see Q1 sales down around 15 percent on Q4-2008, just slightly ahead of our 18 percent forecast decline. Whilst March’s data point is right now still an estimate, the year to date data and trends give strong guidance on what is actually happening. Time therefore to reflect on our 2009 chip market forecast and growth pattern outlook for the year as a whole.
The forecast reflected the unprecedented Q4-2008 industry meltdown that started on Sept 16 with the Lehman Brothers collapse. December was an especially a traumatic month, with several firms reporting negative net monthly sales (i.e., cancellations were higher than new orders), with zero guidance visibility on the outlook for Q1-2009.
Our forecast estimated Q4 would decline a 22.5 percent versus Q3, followed by a similar (but slightly slowing) decline of 20 percent in Q1, bottoming out in Q2 (at -2 percent versus Q1) followed by reasonably strong seasonal recover in Q3 and Q4 of plus 12 percent and plus 3 percent respectively.
Once December’s results were published in February, we modified this profile slightly to reflect December’s actual 24.2 percent decline (versus our 22.5 percent estimate), reducing the first quarter decline slightly (from -20 percent to -18.5 percent) thereby maintaining the overall year-on-year 28 percent decline.
Ironically, despite having the most pessimistic overall year-on-year forecast, we were widely criticised at the time for predicting a ‘V-shaped’ recession. Yet, to achieve the more favoured ‘U-shaped’ recovery would have meant a very low single digit quarterly decline in Q1, something we did not believe was realistic or likely. Our most optimistic (rose coloured glasses) scenario pegged Q1 growth at -8 percent, yielding an 18.7 percent annual 2009 decline.
Despite December’s worse than forecast results, February’s data, both in its absolute value and underlying momentum, added credence to our ‘V-shaped’ scenario, despite the emergence of a new popularist theory of a W-shaped recovery.
As such, we are sticking to both the shape of the recovery — V, not U or W — and profile; there is even some indication that the recovery is happening slightly earlier than we estimated. Now that, if true, would soften the depth of the 2009 decline.
Based on January and February’s WSTS data, March now looks like coming in at $17.019 billion, which would see Q1 reach $43.642 billion, down 16.4 percent on Q4-2009, which is 2 percentage points lower than the 18.4 percent we were forecasting. If this is the case, Q1 will mark the recession cyclical bottom.
The Q4-08 total MOS IC capacity was up just 3.1 percent versus Q4-07, which in turn was up 13.6 percent on Q4-2006. Quarter on quarter growth was -1.7 percent, compared with +1.1 percent for Q3-08, plus 2 for Q2-08 and +1.7 percent for Q1-08. This dramatic slowdown in net new capacity is in direct response to the slowdown in capex that has been gaining momentum since the second half of 2007.
It should be remembered that there is a ‘nine-month delay’ between a capex spend and saleable units out, so capex in year ‘n’ drives capacity expansion in year ‘n+1’. As such, the capex spend is now growing much slower than the underlying unit demand, and the impact is an eventual increase in the capacity utilisation rates.
Do not be misled by the sharp falloff in Q4-08 utilisation; this was the direct result of the September financial crisis near-term inventory purge driven demand slump and not representative of the underlying trends. We expect this to bounce back quite rapidly once orders readjust during the first half of 2009.
Although due to timing, inventory and seasonality issues, supply and demand will never identically track, utilisation rates have been straddling the 90 percent level since mid-2003. We expect this trend to resume by the end of this year.
With capex spend averaging around US$8 billion per quarter between Q3-06 and Q1-08 spending plunged dramatically in Q2-08 reaching under half this average in Q4-08. Given the current front-end capex book-to-bill trends, this spend will shrink still further at least through 1H-2009. Interestingly, this cutback happened well before the Q4 market meltdown, the impact of a premeditated strategy to dramatically tighten supply and thereby increase wafer and IC average selling prices.
The level of new front-end capital equipment orders has now been sizeably lower than sales for 31 consecutive months, the last four at unprecedentedly low levels, aside from two short-lived incursions into positive territory circa Q4-06 and Q4-08. The 2008 capex spend was down 30.6 percent on 2007’s level, with the outlook for 2009 looking to be at least a further 30 percent lower. That would put 2009’s capex spend at well under half 2000’s peak.
No amount of productivity gains can offset this slowed investment, especially now the one-off 300mm conversion gain has been absorbed. Net new capacity addition is thus condemned to shrink even further during 2009, the effect of which will be masked in the near-term by the current inventory /demand adjustment process.
With near-term demand having shrunk in Q4, this strategy has essentially been blocked but not reversed. Unlike 2001, when recession hit during a period of capex expansion, the bounce back from the current dip will be quite sharp and sudden. It is only a matter of time before capacity gets squeezed and wafer process rise. We expect this trend to bit hard in 2010, possibly even leading to shortages and allocations, just as the economic recovery starts to gain momentum.
The interim period of ‘plentiful capacity in 2009’, will feed the perceived wisdom of a sense of supply security, those with an inkling of a medium-term plan need to tie down their supply positions whilst the going is good. Today’s era of cheap and plentiful wafers, like the discredited ‘debt is cheap and free’ era, are number and counting down.
Just to make the point deeper we tracked the book-to-bill ratio against future capacity adjusted for the three quarter lead-time delay. It shows both a good trend correlation and the depth of the problem. Once again, it reinforces all of the other anecdotal and hard evidence that net new capacity growth is condemned to slow even further. When the unit demand recovers, the capacity simply will not be there, especially at the leading edge technologies.”
Friends, as promised, here is the second part of the discussion I had with Accenture’s Scott Grant, based on Accenture’s recent study: Managing Through Challenging Times!
4. Reducing the time to cash for new products.
When companies industrialize the market concept, and they procure design win opportunities, we tend to see critical components involved with this: a) maintaining relationships of requirements from market analysis through final manufacturing build plan; b) leaders who use consistent lifecycle management of a product development flow; and c) IP management with integrated roadmap portfolio capabilities.
“Firms at times are not able to convert concepts to cash quickly. The process to integrate them has several gaps including innovation lifecycles, conversion of R&D concepts to volume products, and ability to optimize the engineering capacity constraints within their P&Ls.”
Product lifecycle management, portfolio & market analytics, and engineer skills/human resource management help to address these gaps. Portfolio management and roadmap planning process are a must. When done, semiconductor companies will be able to map quickly with the customers and the market insights.
5. Sharpening customer focus through more in-depth and accurate customer insight.
Most firms won’t survive if they are unable to gain rapid adoption of their product offering. From our experience, high performing companies build detailed customer usage-models and insight into end-device markets early in their R&D process.
The challenge many find is that without this baseline of understanding it is difficult to convert concepts into cash once the end-product is delivered to the market.
Many of the insights are available from Point of Sale trends, which can help a semicon firm exist at either an OEM (PC, handset, etc.) or distributor. High performers have enhanced the relationship with their work collaborators and customers to gain access to this data. They also build a “Trusted Advisor” relationship where they build scenarios for each end market to better predict what their end-customer may desire in features or functions.
It is difficult for a semicon firm to know how a product will be used. It is really the beginning of gaining insight into utilization, the consumer, and what usage model should be employed. So a semicon firm should study carefully how things can be used in the market. User behavior is crucial. If companies don’t understand that, they may be missing out.
6. Pursuing alliances to share the cost burden of new product development.
The point here is to make sure that semiconductor companies are taking a strategic view and look at the right places to pursue alliances. There’s a lot of impact in pursuing alliances. When semicon companies do this, they can absolutely share the burdens, but it can impact the operating model.
Other recommendations for the industry
What are the other recommendations that Accenture have for the semiconductor industry going forward?
Grant recommends the industry to focus on achieving high performance business results. Those include sustained leadership in various financial metrics such as return to shareholders, profits, and revenue growth.
“Recognize and adapt to the reality that we are now living in a multi-polar world. This is a world in which a growing number of emerging countries and economies are becoming more financially powerful, competitive and relevant in competing against the traditionally more developed parts of the world such as North America, Asia and Europe. This means there are a multitude of growing business opportunities in these emerging nations for semiconductor companies to capitalize on.
“Proactively invest during a recession rather than pull back investments and just wait until the economy pulls out of this down cycle. History has shown that those companies that invest the most perform better in the years after the market recovers.”
Companies repeating mistakes?
Now, these recessions always have a bad habit of occuring cyclically! Therefore, why do semiconductor (and other) companies tend to repeat those same mistakes again and again?
According to Grant, one reason is they tend to indiscriminately and rapidly cut costs without thinking more strategically and carefully about what costs to cut. “They tend to lay off workers who they need when the market recovers, but they can’t hire them back because those employees have moved on with their careers. These semiconductor companies don’t think hard enough about what employees and assets they will need when the market recovers.”
Layoffs? What about design and development?
Finally, are layoffs the only solution to combat recession? What happens to design and development?
Grant agrees that layoffs are absolutely not the only solution to combat recession. Investing in core competencies is crucial, and spending less time and effort on non-core capabilities is important.
“Employee morale tends to fall within design and development during a recession because they see some of their colleagues lose their jobs and they take on more work. And they lose more control of what work they are assigned to do. And they’re less secure about their job security.
“But, much of this can be alleviated by giving employees a chance to share their ideas and concerns at regularly scheduled Town Hall meetings, to communicate with them regularly and candidly, and to focus them on achieving high performance business results.”