KPMG Semiconductor Confidence Survey

Semiconductor executives expect a 2014 which was very much like 2013 in terms of revenue growth and profitability, according to the KPMG Semiconductor Industry Confidence Index.

KPMG surveyed 193 semiconductor industry company execs business. 80% of the companies had revenues over $1 billion.

“Muted optimism best describes the semiconductor outlook for 2014, and lower levels of anticipated revenue growth reflect more short-term uncertainty than a year ago,” says KPMG’s Gary Matuszak, “we see reductions at the upper ends of growth predictions yet higher %ages of respondents predicting modest improvements. This reflects both the industry’s penetration into broader applications and broader geographic markets, resulting in less volatility combined with a slowing growth rate for mobile devices.”

About three-quarters of the semiconductor executives, similar to last year, say their company’s revenue growth will increase in the next year. However, those expecting revenue to increase more than 10% dropped by a third.

On the other hand, business leaders are more optimistic about annual industry profitability. 78% say industry profitability will increase over the next year, compared to 71% in 2012. The semiconductor executives anticipating 6% to 10% hike in industry profitability jumped by almost 50%.

At the same time, optimism continues regarding the industry’s longer-term prospects. Business leaders point to a broadening applications market for semiconductor industry revenue growth over the next three years, signaling reduced dependence on the three historically most important applications — wireless handsets/communications, consumer electronics and computing.

“The broadening of applications markets can lead to more diverse revenue sources and lower likelihood of feast or famine cycles,” says KPMG’s Ron Steger, “as computing declines in relative importance for the semiconductor industry, the companies that had the foresight to identify and invest in emerging application markets such as automotive and medical, as well as devices that enable the emerging internet of things, will be well-positioned to enjoy competitive advantages”

Most important application markets over next three years as identified by at least 55% of the respondents are: Mobile technology – 69%; Consumer – 66%; Computing – 63%; Alternative/Renewable Energy – 63% ; Industrial – 62% ; Automotive – 60%; Medical – 55% ; Wireline Communications – 55% .

Semiconductor executives also expect broadening in geographic markets and reduced dependence on the U.S. and Europe for customer and revenue growth, with China increasing in importance as an end market for semiconductor revenue growth three years from today. While 56% say the U.S. is the most important end market, 55%, (up from 46% in 2012), say China.

Asked about the industry’s expectations for employment growth, executives forecast moderate workforce expansion in 2014. Semiconductor survey respondents continue to cite China (59%) and U.S. (48%) as the top markets for headcount growth, with more citing India (31%) and Korea (24%) than in prior surveys.

73%, compared to two-thirds last year, anticipate an increase in the number of merger and acquisition deals in the industry in 2014.

More than three-fourths expect semiconductor-related R&D spending to increase in the next fiscal year, similar to last year.

In the medical technology area, about half say medical imaging/scanning will create the greatest revenue opportunity three years from today.

Of several auto-related areas, roughly one-quarter say body electronics (remote control, HVAC, etc.) will provide the most semiconductor revenue in three years.

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