Following a challenging year in 2012, the global semiconductor industry is poised for a recovery in 2013, according to several published forecasts. Industry analysts peg 2013 global semiconductor revenue growth in the 4%-6% range, representing a marked improvement from the flat-to-minus 3% year/year decline estimated for 2012.
Because the industry continues to work down the excess inventory in the supply chain that first appeared in the third quarter of 2012, the semiconductor market is likely to see relatively weak demand persist through the first quarter of 2013. Starting in the second quarter, however, the market is expected to show a rebound in growth, led by demand for chips used in smart phones, tablet computers and automotive applications, according to forecasts made by both IDC and Gartner. While PC and server processor production may remain slow in the first half of 2013, production should rebound in the second half of 2013, according to IDC. IDC predicts worldwide unit shipments of PC microprocessors will grow 3.2% in 2013 to 384 million units.
In terms of wafer fab manufacturing capacity utilization – a key barometer of industry production — Gartner sees “increased utilization in the back half of 2013” to a level of about 85% by the end of 2013, up from below 80% by the end of 2012. Importantly, Gartner anticipates that “leading-edge” wafer fab capacity utilization “will move into the low 90% range by the end of 2013, providing for a somewhat positive capital investment environment.”
One of the more interesting and insightful forecasts pertaining to the global semiconductor industry was published this past December by KPMG, the audit, tax and advisory firm. The KPMG report, entitled “Global Semiconductor Survey: A more optimistic outlook for 2013” is well worth reading in its entirety as its conclusions are based on responses from 152 senior executives in the global semiconductor industry. In summary, these executives “largely believe the industry is on the cusp of a recovery that they expect to begin most likely in the second half of 2013 before gaining momentum in the 2014 and 2015.”
With 2013 now under way, we remain optimistic that the semiconductor industry will experience improved growth this year. And from our position as a supplier of high purity process chemicals for the global semiconductor industry, we are especially encouraged by the continued advances in manufacturing process technology that necessitate the use of higher purity chemicals. We expect this trend to continue in 2013 and beyond.comments powered by Disqus