The semiconductor market will grow 7.9% this year, Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, told IFS2013 in London this morning.
However Penn added: “Last year I forecast 8% growth, and I said that was a safe bet and it turned out to be minus 2.4%.”
World events – the US fiscal mess, the Eurozone debt mess, the ‘damp squibs’ of Windows 8 and iPhone 5 all blighted the industry in 2012, said Penn
For 2013, Penn expects a flat Q1, 2% growth in Q2, 8% growth in Q3 and a 2.1% decline in Q4.
That translates into Q1 sales of $75bn, Q2 sales of $76.6bn, Q3 sales of $82.1bn and Q4 sales of $80.9bn, for a total market of $315.4bn this year,
In terms of fab investment there was one quarter in the last two years when the SEMI book-to-bill turned positive – that was Q1 2012 – but there were 14 months of negative book-to-bill before Q1 2012 and there have been seven months of negative book-to-bill since.
So there’s an historic lack of capacity, which means a pick-up in demand could have a dramatic effect.
“There’s the potential for an incredibly strong rebound,” said Penn, “we’re going to have two good years when it happens. But will that start in the second quarter or third quarter or when?”
Penn added that: “If the industry turns in 2013 then hold onto your hats for 2014 because it’s already starved of capacity.”
Penn pointed out that it’s now too late to do anything to affect January 2014 capacity because capex spent now affects output one year later.
Inventory is depleted so any rebound in demand will impact directly on capacity.
Consequently, rebounding demand matched by low capacity could see dramatic market growth – 25-30% in 2014.
For the moment, however, there is no sign of a rebound. “The industry has cut so deep it is running on empty,” said Penn.
For the time being, it’s gloom all round. “Near term economic confidence is wretched,” said Penn, “everyone is feeling bad. Companies have tons of cash but no one is spending it. We’ll have zero or 1% interest rates until 2016. There’s still the risk of a global recession in 2013.”